If your business has an internet connection, cybercriminals are coming for you – Produce Blue Book

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The cybersecurity threat to agricultural businesses is so pervasive that no one is immune.

“If your organization is connected to the Internet, they know you and they will attack,” said Eric Regnier, IT and security manager at ZAG Technical Services BB #: 365534.

Eric Regnier

ProduceSupply.Org (PSO), a consortium of North American produce suppliers working together on fresh produce technology initiatives, this week released the first revision of PSO Cybersecurity Best Practices for Produce Suppliers. vegetables in order to give fruit and vegetable companies a framework to defend and protect themselves against cyber attack.

Johnny McGuire, chief information officer for The Nunes Company BB #: 114986 and chairman of the PSO Cybersecurity Council, said the agricultural products industry urgently needs protection, and that’s something companies aren’t. not comfortable dealing or even talking.

“We’ve seen businesses and our members fall prey to cyberattacks,” he said.

A typical ransomware attack could halt a grower-shipper’s harvesting, shipping, packaging and invoicing for 10 days, resulting in millions of dollars in costs and losses, McGuire said.

“Some companies couldn’t survive that,” he said.

In Salinas, California, for example, while production companies are competitors, they are also highly connected, buying and selling with each other.

Johnny McGuire, CIO of The Nunes Company
Johnny McGuire

“If someone is compromised, we’re all at risk,” McGuire said.

Regnier said this spring that the FBI warned food and agricultural businesses that they could become targets of ransomware attacks during their busiest times, such as during planting and harvesting.

“It’s sophisticated and heavily resourced,” he said. “Everyone reading this is being targeted right now.”

And he said that despite the FBI’s warning, there’s not much their agents can do about the threats since the threats come from all over the world, so if they’re in a country that’s hostile to the United States, there’s no one to turn to for help. .

PSO’s best practice guidelines are specifically designed to serve fresh produce businesses, which often operate around the clock, every day of the year. They are divided into three levels – high, medium and low – designed to provide practical guidance for improving cybersecurity defenses for all sizes of businesses.

“We wrote these guidelines, and now we want to help everyone, especially small businesses, implement them and stay safe,” McGuire said. “It’s not a computer problem. It’s for everyone, especially business owners.

“Resources should be viewed as empowering and proactively addressing threats specific to the ag industry,” said Jenna Hardie, marketing communications manager for ZAG, who donates her technical expertise to the initiative as as subject matter experts.

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