In this space previously, I gave you a glimpse into my background, which includes more than 30 years of technology coverage, but only about a year and a half now within the food and beverage industry. In fact, my recent visit to the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta just reinforced that, with every bit of information I take in, it’s that much more obvious what I still have to learn.
One thing I do know something about, however, is the need for a solid, ever-adapting cybersecurity plan—no matter which industry you work in. At our sister publication Automation World, I covered primarily automation for such industries as oil and gas, water/wastewater, and power generation—all industries that are considered “critical infrastructure” and commonly operations where, if something goes wrong, things can go boom. For these industries, I regularly wrote about cybersecurity, the growing struggle against well-resourced bad actors, and the need to get defenses up to snuff.
|Watch Cyber Alert: Secure Your Operations Now for tips from PMMI on thwarting potential Russian interference.
It’s not something we get into often here at ProFood World, but for our annual cover story on automation, I wanted to focus in on cybersecurity. One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has made crystal clear is not only how critical the food and beverage industry is itself but also how much it and the public can be affected by disruptions to supply, no matter where or why they might occur along the chain. And I certainly don’t have to tell you how much it will hurt if your own operations are brought down—even just for a few days—by a cyber attack.
I don’t mean to make this sound like doomsday because it certainly doesn’t need to be. Just don’t ignore the issue, thinking that yours is an industry that is not likely to be targeted. Or that you’re too small an operation for anyone to care about attacking. Anyone can get caught in the net. Although there might come a day when the bad guys target a food operation specifically to poison the supply, right now it’s much more about a lucrative business model that’s fed by businesses being unprepared for a ransomware attack.
|Read Put Your Cyber Defenses Up Before They Take You Down, and don't get caught without a plan.