How Food Distributors Protect Themselves (Questions/Answers)

Food Distributors are the king of the food chain, but with great power comes great responsibility. How can food distributors protect programs, applications, data, and everything that feeds the world?

The Food Chain: Protecting The Process From Byte To Bite

Every food chain is unique in its ecological construct, but the links within a food chain follow a universal flow from predator to prey. In the human food chain, consumers benefit from a high perch at the top of the chain, regardless of diet – vegetarian, keto, paleo, pescatarian, the list goes on.

Food is a lifeline: without food, the world would not only starve but over time simply cease to exist. Food distributors are responsible for maintaining a successful and timely process, a process which relies on technology in modern society. Technology is used to track orders, schedule deliveries, process transactions, forecast and project future orders, and much more. Food distribution processes are undoubtedly filled with moving parts that require sophisticated software and advance technology to function properly.

Because food distributors are the most critical element to society’s food supply, the need to protect the technology on which the processes depend is equally critical. Failure in this sense would mean a catastrophic shutdown of unimaginable proportions – but successful protection is simple with a few key steps.

  • Backup

The number one rule of data: Where there is data, there is a need to back up your data. The best backup plan is to have a backup plan, no matter what. Your data backups should include not just the information within your systems and applications, but also these applications and anything needed to run operations and prevent an impact to the business. Not only is downtime preventable, but the alternative can kill a business.

Food distributors should consider these questions:

  • What is your current data backup process?
  • When was the last time your data backup process was fully tested to ensure complete and total recovery?
  • Are there holes in your backup process that you’ll need to prepare for?

Aside from the answers to these questions, it’s imperative to assess what elements should be included in a backup plan and to what degree the plan needs to be adjusted or scalable for future needs.

  • Protect

Enabling firewalls, encrypting data, and antivirus software are ways food distributors can protect and defend the security of your technology. All of the systems, processes, and applications that work together to manage the flow of data are intertwined using technology that needs to be protected. These processes and applications help you collect, store, and use this information that is most meaningful to food distributors, and technology makes this possible in an efficient and cost-effective way.

Food distribution technology security is a complex undertaking, and is best overseen by a team that is experienced in the needs of food distributors. Staffing an internal IT team can be a costly and incomplete process, but partnering with a managed IT services provider is the most cost-effective relationship available today. For a low monthly fee, managed IT services providers (MSPs) offer a customized “bundled” relationship at significant savings to businesses who need targeted services like:

  • Help Desk support
  • Cloud storage and services
  • Network and cybersecurity
  • IT consulting
  • Infrastructure design and support

Most MSPs also offer 24/7 monitoring to safeguard networks from threats, with the added benefit of immediate response should a threat be detected. Enjoy the feeling of a team of full-time food distribution technology security experts at a fraction of the cost!

  • Educate

A recent global study found that more than half of all security breaches were from internal threats. Exactly how many of those breaches were from accidental clicks are unknown, but just as important as a data backup plan and protecting a network from external threat is educating an internal team about cybersecurity, including ongoing training. Partnering with an MSP helps protect your network from external threats, but MSPs also help with internal issues, like:

  • Email safety
    • Avoiding phishing attempts, SPAM, and malware.
  • Web filtering
    • Prevent team members from visiting dangerous websites, including those masquerading as legitimate sites that aim to trick visitors into entering login credentials.
  • Password protocols
    • Training teams to use complex and unique password combinations of numbers with uppercase and lowercase letters, and not keeping passwords in easy-to-access places, like handwritten notes next to a workstation.
  • Cybersecurity best practices
    • Require teams to update passwords at least once every quarter.
    • Limit access to secure network locations.
    • Only allow network access via secured connections.

Food distributors are responsible for a challenging and complex technology security process. In addition to meeting technology security needs, choose an MSP that is compliant with industry regulations, and understands the USDA’s global food security strategy. With the right set of tools in place, and partnering with an MSP that meets the needs of your industry and your business, food distributors can rest easy knowing that their systems and processes are protected and safeguarded.

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