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Cybersecurity: Produce companies must protect data as they protect food

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Data breaches no longer are so far flung and rare that they only happen to somebody else.

An estimated 3.5 million cyberattacks occur every day, and fighting them off is everyone’s problem, notes Lisa Shasteen, a Tampa, FL-based attorney at Shasteen & Percy, PA, a law firm that specializes in cybersecurity.

Guarding against attacks is indeed a shared responsibility, not just the purview of a company’s technology team.

“The main risk faced by any business, regardless of size—including the produce industry—is the human element,” Shasteen explains. “Technology is sexy and gets all the intention, but it can’t do anything without the human element.”

The issue is so serious and widespread, it’s getting attention at the top levels of government. At a cybersecurity summit in August of last year, President Joe Biden considered cybercrime as a core national security challenge, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As Shasteen observes, cybercrime knows no boundaries—it’s ubiquitous. “You may have the best technology on the planet, but there are about 385,000 pieces of malware invented each year, and that’s actually expanding.

“Combatting breaches and malware is very much like combatting Covid: if the person next to you is not aware and using poor cybersecurity and cyber-hygiene practices, you’ll get infected.”

In a world fraught with cyber danger, companies should be prepared against attacks, and have a plan.

“The attack landscape is changing often; most IT people are too busy keeping production running to keep up with the latest attacks,” says Greg Gatzke, president of ZAG Technical Services, Inc., a San Jose, CA-based IT consulting firm and managed services provider.

He recommends seeking the advice and help of professionals. “Look outside for guidance,” he says, with a company or individual management trusts, especially someone who has gone through these situations.

This an excerpt from a feature story in the March/April 2022 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole issue.