OFA hosts online webinar about cyber security on the farm

GUELPH – More and more businesses are becoming the targets of cyber security breaches of all kinds, from compromised information and financial fraud to data that is held hostage until a ransom is paid, the Ontatrio Federation of Agriculture states.

It’s a scary prospect and agriculture as a sector is more at risk than most. It’s an industry with many independent businesses, which means that although some cyber security practices are in place, they are uneven and not as strong as they could be. And except for very large operations, most family farm businesses do not have a family or staff member with cyber security expertise.

A key barrier to cyber security action on the farm is not knowing where or how to start – and that’s where the OFA can help.

In a Feb. 5 webinar, OFA general manager Cathy Lennon hosted a one-hour online lunch and learn session where she gave a high-level overview – in easy to understand, low jargon language – of the key risks, and how to get started with managing them on the farm.

The webinar is viewable by visiting: youtube.com.

Cyber security tips

Some simple steps from the OFA to minimize risk as much as possible:

– make a checklist of all your current technology and ensure you’re using current software versions and systems;

– establish basic rules for your team to recognize where threats come from and what to do – or not do;

– ensure new systems or devices are set up properly and asking suppliers what security the devices have and whether data is encrypted;

– don’t share passwords, make sure they are strong and update login credentials when an employee leaves the business; and

– back up data and install valid anti-virus software, firewalls and malware detection systems that are kept up to date.