As part of National Farm Safety Week (18 - 22 July 2011), AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd, the distributor of the award-winning AVG anti-virus and Internet security software in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, is making rural communities aware that farm and personal safety is an issue that now reaches beyond their paddocks and workshops and into their homes and business activities online.
Protecting the farm has expanded from concerns for physical safety when using tools and heavy machinery. It is also vital to protect business data as well as personal and financial identity when using computers, smart phones and other communication technologies on the farm.
Farmers, like owners of every sized enterprise, are now dependent on technology to not only run the accounts but to capture markets across Australia and all over the world using their own web sites and online sales.
"Cyber crime is increasingly sophisticated and organised," said Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist at AVG (AU/NZ). "Keeping your rural business and personal information safe means more than installing anti-virus or Internet security software alone; it's about understanding online threats."
Birchip Cropping Group, a community and farmer-controlled agricultural group in Victoria, uses AVG to protect its business. "AVG performs well, is very user-friendly and there is free technical support at hand if you need it. For a group that's not really IT savvy, we know we can get on with the job of helping local farmers, knowing AVG is looking after us," said Nathan Gustafson, Administrative Office at BCG.
AVG offers a number of resources designed to help keep businesses safe online. Visit www.avgatwork.com.au and take the quick and easy AVG Online Security Audit to receive a personalised IT security action plan. You can also download the 11 page AVG Small Business Security Guide, which is an action template covering the establishment of policies through to the documentation of processes to secure your farm business.
Borrett also recommends the Australian Government's Stay Smart Online web site for security tips (www.staysmartonline.gov.au/), and offers the following advice for safe use of computers, smart phones, tablets, e-readers and any other online device.
- Install Internet security software to protect against identity theft, spyware, viruses and other malicious software. It can only be fully effective if it's always on, up to date, scans all of your files regularly and you renew your subscription before it expires. AVG has both free and paid Anti-Virus and Internet Security solutions for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android users.
- Select automatic updates for your complete environment including its operating system, security software, utilities and other applications.
- Use a strong password and change it at least twice a year. Invent illogical word, number and symbol combinations to create the strongest passwords and change them regularly. Always change from default passwords, such as 'password' or 'admin' and never tick the 'remember this password' box.
- Think carefully before you click on links and attachments, particularly in emails and on social networking sites. Don't expose yourself to viruses, malicious software or scam web sites designed to steal your personal information. To check if a web site is safe, go to www.avgthreatlabs.com and enter the web site's URL for its safety rating. AVG LinkScanner for Windows and Mac PCs provides web protection wherever you go online by actively checking web pages in real time before they open. If it sees trouble ahead, it warns you.
- Report or talk to someone about anything online that makes you uncomfortable. You can install the Government's free Cybersafety Help Button onto your desktop or task bar and have help just a click away - download it from dbcde.gov.au/helpbutton.
- Know what your children and/or staff are doing online. Make sure they know how to stay safe and encourage them to report anything suspicious.
"The theme for National Farm Safety Week 2011 is 'Safe Farming is Profitable'," Borrett said. "But unless farmers also think about the online safety of their business and family, they run the risk of their farm profits being delivered into the hands of organised cyber criminals."
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