Learning From WikiLeaks

If WikiLeaks’ unauthorized release of more than a 250,000 sensitive computer files is not a wake-up call to companies about the need to proactively protect confidential information, than nothing is. The WikiLeaks phenomenon — the existence of an organization devoted to obtaining and publicly releasing large troves of information the U.S. government would prefer to keep secret — illustrates just how vulnerable our data security is.

While WikiLeaks serves as the ultimate example of how a breach occurs, most companies won’t learn their lesson until they experience an incident themselves. In fact, a recent Forrester survey of 305 security and e-mail professionals revealed some eye-popping statistics:
•  One in three companies investigated a breach of confidential data last year.
•  One in four companies experienced an “embarrassing” leak of confidential information.
•  One in five e-mails contains a legal, financial or regulatory risk.

What You Can Do

Sensitive data is everywhere. Recent studies by security firms have shown several trends that might prompt ag retailers to rethink how they protect confidential information at their operations. Here are four lessons/trends you can learn from:

  1. Knowing is only half the battle. A company’s intellectual property is no longer just represented as tangible products, but it’s also the intangible, digital assets like customer data, client lists, and merger and acquisition plans. Ag retailers should consider conducting a companywide intellectual property audit to generate a list of proprietary business information assets they want to protect. But knowing what these assets are is only half the battle. To better protect them, many companies are investing in new Data Loss Prevention technologies that promise to keep “tabs” on where sensitive data is going, who is using it, where it is being saved and whether or not it is being protected or used appropriately.
  2. Mobile workers pose an increasing threat to business data. According to a Symantec study, Website blocks based on corporate policies get triggered 35% more often by workers when they are on the road, compared with being in their office. And as more and more ag retailers take their laptops, smartphones and other mobile devices into the field, the risk of malicious attacks that exploit these devices will increase next year. To shield as much data as possible from potential hackers, security experts recommend limiting the resources that these devices can access inside the firewall.
  3. Social media concerns in the workplace are on the rise. A 2010 Trend Micro study found that social media use in the workplace has risen from 19% to 24% in the past two years, and it is not hard to predict that number will continue trending up. Furthermore, concerns about data loss events related to social media continued to rise over the past 12 months. According to a Proofpoint study, 53% of respondents were highly concerned about the risk of data leaks through a social networking site. Social media use is growing at an even greater pace in our industry. Results from a 2010 CropLife Media Group survey showed adoption among ag retailers rose 24% from 2008. While monitoring social media use in the workplace may not be a high priority for most ag retailers, it’s certainly an area they should keep a closer eye on than in the past.
  4. E-mail remains a serious threat. A new report from on-demand security software vendor Awareness Technologies finds that e-mail services are increasingly responsible for a growing number of data breaches. Awareness Technologies studied significant data breaches that occurred at more than 10,000 customer sites and found that most of the “insider” breaches were a result of employees either being malicious, untrained or gullible. So does your ag retail operation have an e-mail policy? If not, it’s time to create one to ensure employees have the necessary guidance as to the use of the company’s e-mail system, and to inform them of prohibited conduct.

Leave a Reply

Matt Hopkins Stories

Matt Hopkins5 Misguided Reasons Why Ag Retailers Are Not Using Social Media
June 2, 2014
These most commonly cited reasons for not embracing social media need to be re-examined. Read More
Matt HopkinsHow iPads Are Transforming Customer Service At Dow AgroSciences
March 12, 2014
Dow AgroSciences' Tiffany Galloway discusses how iPads and mobile apps have completely changed the way the company's sales force interacts with customers. Read More
Matt HopkinsPrecision Agriculture: 6 Mobile Use Trends To Watch
March 3, 2014
The convergence of precision agriculture and mobile technology is highlighted by several key trends. Read More

Trending Articles

CropLife 100Agrium To Cut 500 Jobs, Sell Some Businesses
November 11, 2014
Among the businesses Agrium will try to sell are its micronutrients and European UAN (urea-ammonium nitrate) lines. Read More
HerbicidesMonsanto, Sumitomo Chemical And Valent Extend Crop Protection Collaboration
November 10, 2014
The agreement extends their strategic partnership in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions platform for soybeans and cotton in the U.S. Read More
FertilizerCorn Rootworm Hybrids And Potassium Uptake
November 4, 2014
To achieve successful yields, grower-customers can’t afford to cut back on their potassium use with corn rootworm hybrids, say experts. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More

Latest News

EquipmentAGCO Announces Operator Of The Year Finalists
November 20, 2014
Four custom applicators have been selected by AGCO Application Equipment as finalists for 2014 Operator of the Year, an honor that recognizes them as being among the top professionals in their industry throughout North America. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 20, 2014
H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
soybean field
FertilizerGeneral Mills Honors United Suppliers For Nitrogen Opti…
November 19, 2014
United Suppliers winning proposal detailed SUSTAIN, a consulting network that provides customized products and services for farmers using a needs-based system approach. Read More
EmployeesOhio AgriBusiness Association Awards $25,000 In Scholar…
November 19, 2014
Each year, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust scholarship program awards scholarship dollars to students enrolled in an agriculture-related field attending several state colleges. Read More
ManagementServi-Tech Names New CEO
November 17, 2014
Servi-Tech has named Greg Ruehle its new president and CEO. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Ag Acquires Colorado Aerial Application Outlet
November 17, 2014
Ft. Lupton, CO-based Reck Aviation — a full-service chemical application company providing aerial crop applications of fertilizers and crop protection products — will operate as part of Pinnacle's AgOne Application Services brand. Read More
Eric SfiligojMcDonald’s Message: Biotech Crops Scarier Than Cancer
November 17, 2014
Despite their potential health benefits, one of the world’s largest potato users will pass on a new biotech offering. Read More
MicronutrientsWinField Releases 2014 NutriSolutions Results
November 14, 2014
A number of significant regional and national crop deficiency trends emerged from the 2014 WinField NutriSolutions tissue sampling program. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Opens Chinese Production Lines
November 14, 2014
The occasion was the official launch of the Tiger-Sul sulphur Bentonite production line of two much anticipated fertilizer products in China, T90CR sulphur fertilizer and TZinc micronutrient enhanced sulphur fertilizer. Read More
ManagementOhio Certified Crop Adviser Program Accepting Nominatio…
November 14, 2014
The award recognizes an individual who delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production in Ohio. Read More
HerbicidesSyngenta Announces Acuron Trial Plot Results
November 14, 2014
Acuron was tested at 167 trial locations across 35 states. Trials included 95 Syngenta locations, 54 university locations and 18 distributor locations. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Expands Sales Force
November 13, 2014
The new sales representatives will work with growers, retail partners and distributors to oversee technical training and product education. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Raises $100K For Wounded Warrior Project
November 13, 2014
AGCO Corp. partnered with local AGCO dealers across the U.S. and Canada to raise nearly $100,000 in support of wounded service veterans. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Launch Of Enlist Duo Herbici…
November 12, 2014
It will be launched in conjunction with a stewarded introduction of Enlist corn, and seed production of Enlist soybeans in 2015. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 12, 2014
Agricultural firm H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
Blenders13 Fertilizer Blenders For 2015
November 12, 2014
Dealers can find a fertilizer blender to deliver any speed, volume and custom mix they want. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Vice President Receives Honorary FFA Award
November 11, 2014
Jim Loar, vice president of operations of Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division, was awarded the Honorary American FFA Degree at the 2014 National FFA Convention and Expo in Louisville, KY. Read More
FertilizerBASF Makes Limus Nitrogen Management Available In U.S.
November 11, 2014
Reducing ammonia losses by more than 90%, Limus nitrogen management has demonstrated increased crop yields on average of 6%, according to 2013 replicated research. Read More