As Hackers Become More Sophisticated Heightened Cybersecurity Becomes More Critical

Farmscape for November 17, 2023

The General Manager of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture says, as online hackers become more sophisticated, the need for stepped up awareness and heightened cybersecurity become more critical.
"Cybersecurity for your Farm" was among the topics discussed last week as part of Saskatchewan Pork industry Symposium 2023 in Saskatoon.
Cathy Lennon, the General Manager of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, explains cybersecurity is about protecting any of your assets that are attached to the internet, be it a cell phone, an iPad or anything in your tractor or your barn that is potentially vulnerable to attack through the internet.

Quote-Cathy Lennon-Ontario Federation of Agriculture:
Some fairly public examples would be the JBS plant in Alberta in 2021, the largest global meat processing plant in the country, subject to a cybersecurity attack.
It is reported that they ended paying 13 million dollars Canadian in ransom to get their business operations and information back.
We've seen it at grocery retail.
The Empire grocery chain which runs Sobeys and Safeway, they too have been subject to cybersecurity breaches which have cost them significant dollars in ransom as well, reporting about 25 million dollars on their financial statements in their most recent report.
But we're also seeing it on farms.
There is an example reported in Ontario in 2023 where a hacker broke into a small Ontario hog farm, took control and locked them out of their business systems on the farm as well as threatening them that they would require a false confession about the treatment of their livestock in order to get access back to their information so it's everything from farm level right through to retail.

Lennon says steps that can be taken right now to improve cybersecurity include the use of unique user names and passwords to ensure that if one account does become compromised that hackers don't have access to all accounts and to always accept software updates to ensure the most secure version is installed.
She says diligence in maintaining backups is also critical to ensuring systems can be restored as quickly as possible following an attack.
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Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is produced on behalf of North America’s pork producers