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How to protect your feedlot operation from cyber threats

How to protect your feedlot operation from cyber threats

3 Minute Read

With the rising frequency of cyber attacks in Canada, feedlots are at a heightened risk of encountering threats that can damage their operation and reputation. Understanding the following common risks and best practices can help safeguard your business.

Key threats:

  • Fraudulent payment requests from fraudsters posing as vendors or business partners
  • Security breaches in vital operations systems

How to protect your business:

  • Awareness training for employees
  • Know your systems and equipment to understand threats
  • Create a response plan in case of an attack

Cyber attacks in Canada are rising across all industries — including agriculture. Food producers and processors such as cattle ranchers and feedlots have increasingly become a target for fraud, ransomware, and security breaches. The consequences of a successful attack on your operation can be severe, with the potential to disrupt your operations, damage the reputation of your business, and cause significant financial losses.

It is more important than ever to prepare your operation against an inevitable cyber attack as reliance on technology continues to increase. Learn about some of the most common threats facing Canadian feedlot operations today and the steps you can take to protect your business.

What are the most common cyber threats?

Cyber attacks take many different forms — however, some are more common than others. Recognizing the threats to your operation is the first step toward reducing the risks to your business.

These two types of attacks frequently target feedlot operations in Canada:

Fraudulent payment requests

Fraudsters are posing as vendors, suppliers, or business partners to request payments through emails or transfers. These requests often appear legitimate at first glance — and many feedlot operations lose thousands of dollars by sending payments to these accounts.

These types of scams may only be uncovered when a supplier contacts the business to ask why payments have not been submitted. The business then discovers that the payments were sent to another account and that they are unable to recover the money — leaving them on the line for the missed payments.

Security breaches

Your feedlot operation relies on systems to provide water and disburse feed to your livestock. While these systems and equipment make your operation more efficient, they may not be designed with cyber security in mind — leaving your business vulnerable to an attack.

A security breach can bring your operations to a halt and impact the health of your livestock. Additionally, many feedlot operations rely on the same systems — and a successful attack on one puts the others at a higher risk.

How you can protect your business

Cyber attacks can happen to feedlot operations of any size — from the largest to the smallest. It is important to set up measures to reduce risks and minimize the consequences of a successful attack. These best practices can help you get started:

Invest in awareness training

Your employees are an integral part of your operation — and it is essential for them to recognize common threats such as fraudulent payment requests to protect your business. Provide awareness training to your employees to help them identify fraudulent requests or emails that may contain links to malware such as ransomware.

It is also essential to provide training on how to address different types of cyber threats. Advise your employees not to click on any links in spam emails and to delete the messages without a response. When handling an unexpected or suspicious payment request, ask them to call the supplier directly to verify the request before submitting payment.

Know your systems and equipment

Your systems make your work easier by allowing you to remotely control tasks such as irrigation or feed disbursement. However, it is important to ask the manufacturer who else can view your systems and equipment to determine how vulnerable it is to cyber attacks.

It may also be beneficial to ask the manufacturer whether any major security breaches have occurred in the past, how the incident happened, and the steps they took to prevent future incidents from occurring. They may be willing to assume shared responsibility for their technology and work with you to prevent and address cyber threats.

Create a response plan

It is essential to have an effective response plan in place to address a successful cyber attack. This will help you take the right steps to protect your operation and prevent further damage during a time when stress and emotions may be running high.

Your plan should outline who to contact in the event of a successful cyber attack, how to track the threat actor’s progress within your system, and the steps you must follow to prevent further losses or damages. This plan should also include how to communicate about the attack both internally and externally — as well as recommend a course of action to recover your losses.

Contact us

For more information about how to mitigate risks to your feedlot operation, contact Chris Law.


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