SPONSORED BY BANK FORWARD
There is no denying that technology is an essential part of our everyday lives and the farming industry is no different. Technology helps us be more productive, increase efficiency and communicate with ease.
“Technology is wonderful,” Stacy Rasmusson, Information Security Officer at Bank Forward says. “It helps us track yield data, easily access account information, pay employees and connect with a vendor in a matter of seconds. But as agriculture becomes more high-tech and we share more information about our farming operations digitally, we have to make cybersecurity a priority and protect our information.”
With roots grounded in ag for more than 90 years, Bank Forward is committed to helping customers build their operations and keep their data safe. From the smaller family farm to the large-scale ag supplier, Rasmusson recommends four easy steps to make cybersecurity a reality.
1. Secure Devices
Mobile devices are used for far more than making telephone calls. They are genuinely computers with an abundance of our information. Apps that access our bank account and farming operation data, websites we visit to make purchases and manage our business and emails that detail our farming production are easily accessible. Keep your mobile devices current and install updates as they are available. “The same goes for your desktop computers and other software programs as well as your antivirus and malware protection,” Rasmusson says. “Also, if someone brings you a USB device, make sure your antivirus and malware protection scan those devices before opening the data.”
2. Back-Up Data
Backing up your data is the best way to stay ahead of viruses that can wipe out hard drives or outsmart hackers that take control of your data threatening deletion if a ransom isn’t met. “Your data needs to be secured offline,” Rasmusson explains. “Whether you use an external hard drive or the cloud, just make sure it is secure!”
3. Think Before You Click
The easiest way a hacker can access your information is by you supplying it unknowingly. “When in doubt, throw it out,” Rasmusson advises. “If you are not sure who sent it or the source of it, be cautious and contact the source directly to confirm everything is legitimate before clicking on links or downloading attachments.”
4. Lock Down Your Login
Your password is the first defense. “It is so important to have strong passwords and different passwords for your different accounts,” Rasmusson says. “Never share passwords and when available, use multifactor authentication.”
Rasmusson explains that good cyber-hygiene is important for all of us personally and professionally. “Providing financial advice is what is expected from a bank, and we do that very well,” she states. “At Bank Forward, cybersecurity is a priority starting with training our employees internally and then extending that into customer education sessions. Helping our employees and customers take advantage of the benefits of technology safely while protecting what they have worked so hard for is simply the Forward Way.”
About Bank Forward
Founded in 1927, Bank Forward operates under one charter in 13 communities in North Dakota and Minnesota. With 13 bank offices, 11 insurance agencies and two tax offices, Bank Forward offers a complete line of personal and commercial financial, insurance and tax services. Learn more at bankforward.com.