Releases Cybersecurity Guidance for Produce Suppliers Amidst Growing Threats

Salinas, Calif. – ProduceSupply.Org (PSO), a consortium of North America’s leading produce suppliers working together on technology initiatives in fresh produce, announced today it has released the first revision of the PSO Cybersecurity Best Practices for Produce Suppliers to provide produce companies with a framework to defend and protect themselves from cyberattack.

The produce industry has seen a significant increase in the frequency of ransomware and other cyberattacks, some of which recently have directly impacted PSO member companies. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) recently warned that food and agriculture businesses could become a target of ransomware attacks during the sector’s busiest times – such as planting and harvest. The FBI warns that criminals target Agriculture businesses during these times to maximize the “pain” associated with their attack, hoping to force their victims to pay the ransom quickly.

The growing threats prompted the PSO to form the PSO Cybersecurity Council in December 2021. The council is comprised of 16 IT professionals from 10 Produce companies, including Calavo Growers, Duda, Foxy Produce (The Nunes Company), Grimmway Farms, L&M Companies, Oppy, and Tanimura & Antle. ZAG Technical Services, the premier provider of information technology for Western agribusinesses, donated their technical expertise to the initiative as subject matter experts.

“As a commodity-based industry, PSO members are reliant on each other and our ancillary suppliers to deliver fresh, perishable produce into the supply chain on a 24/7 basis – and cyberattacks can thwart those efforts,” said Johnny McGuire, Chairman of the PSO Cybersecurity Council and IT Director for The Nunes Company. “The PSO wanted to introduce some actionable best practices that suppliers can take back to their IT departments and implement immediately.” 

Based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework and tailored to fit the needs of the 24/7/365 demands of the fresh produce industry, the guidelines are broken down into three tiers – high, middle, and low – meant to provide actionable guidance to improve cybersecurity defenses for companies of all sizes.

Companies can determine what their tier is with the Implementation Tier Calculator (ITC), and once that’s completed, they can access the best practices relative to that are applicable, available in a PDF or Excel version and free to all fresh produce suppliers.

“PSO has always worked to help suppliers across the industry with standards aimed at making their businesses stronger and more marketable,” said Erik Larsen, Chief Operating Officer of PSO. “Forming the Cybersecurity Council and establishing cybersecurity standards to be shared with the industry is a natural progression of that advocacy as we aim to be a resource for the organizations. There’s nothing more important than protecting the nation’s food supply and these standards provide a framework for building safeguards across the industry we care so much about.”

To access the PSO Cybersecurity Best Practices for Produce Suppliers, click here.  

About PSO

ProduceSupply.Org (PSO) is a consortium of North America’s leading produce suppliers working together on technology initiatives in fresh produce. Started in 2000, PSO was formed to discuss the issues facing produce suppliers as the boom of web-based and e-commerce companies emerged. The group met to explore the idea of working together to define e-commerce requirements and establish integration standards. Initially, 14 produce companies formed PSO, a not-for-profit LLC to help suppliers in the industry work through and take advantage of technology trends like this. Today, the PSO works to address emerging challenges to the produce supply chain and address them to move the produce industry forward. The PSO membership is comprised of the following fresh produce companies:

A. Duda & Sons, Inc.Tanimura & Antle, Value Added, LLC
Calavo Growers of CaliforniaThe Nunes Company, Inc.
D’ Arrigo Bros. Co. of CaliforniaDole Fresh Vegetables
David Oppenheimer & Company 1, L.L.C.Domex Inc.
Driscoll’s, Inc.Taylor Farms
Grimmway Enterprises, Inc.Monterey Mushrooms, Inc.
L&M Companies, Inc.Organic Girl
Naturipe Berry Growers, IncPacific International Marketing
Braga Fresh Family Farms 

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