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Protecting your agribusiness from cyberattacks

Protecting your agribusiness from cyberattacks

Hackers have targeted grain co-ops in recent weeks

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Agribusinesses have been the targets of recent cyberattacks.

In the U.S., for example, hackers used ransomware to access information and data at Crystal Valley in Minnesota and New Cooperative Inc. in Iowa.

With those two instances at top of mind, connected with an IT manager to discuss the nature of those attacks and how businesses can protect themselves from digital security breaches.

“Ransomware has been around for many years,” said John So, IT manager with VL Interactive. “The larger the organization, the more money they’ll request up front to unlock the data.”

A report from cybersecurity company Group-IB estimates ransomware is a billion-dollar industry for hackers with average payouts between $150,000 and $170,000.

A lot of times, the victims of the cyberattacks will pay the ransom to prevent any further delays, So said.

“Some data recovery processes can take days and some businesses will lose less money if they just pay to get their data back,” he said.

Any organization or business setting up an online network should be aware of how a hacker may try to access sensitive files.

A main source of entry for hackers is phishing emails, So said.

In these types of communications, hackers impersonate legitimate contacts in the hopes a user will download malware.

“Once they’re in, hackers will sit there for months to gather as much information and access as possible,” So said. “They can install software that will give them access to a directory or steal administrative credentials.”

Multiple products are available for installation to protect a network from potential cyber threats.

These include email systems and antivirus and other software capable of detecting links prior to a user clicking on them. Proactive software is also available to manage an entire domain.

Business owners who may feel this kind of setup is outside of their comfort zone should contact reputable cyber security representatives, So said.

“Any established IT managed service provider will be able to help,” he said. “There are also some vendors who are specific to the cyber security field. Or a business owner can hire an IT security consultant who can do an overview of the whole network and provide recommendations.”

Visit to learn more about professional managed IT services that can help protect your agribusiness from cyberattacks and other digital security threats.

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