Hey Vintners! Is Your Back Door Unlocked?

Published on Mon, 05/19/2014 - 18:17
grapes hanging on vines

Not your literal back door of course. We’re talking cyber security.

The wine industry is growing; in 2013, California sales grew by 3 percent in volume and 5 percent in value. At the same time, the threat of virtual data breaches is also growing.

Now why is that? The connection is easy to trace. Today’s business landscape is defined by technology: there are a slew of powerful IT tools out there, which (among other things) have made online transactions the norm for companies and consumers alike. Wineries are taking note of that fact, turning to the Internet to market their offerings, conduct online transactions and store credit card data.

In so doing, they’re not only harnessing powerful technological tools. They’re also taking on a new set of risks.

Let’s Get Smart about Cyber Security

There’s a moral here. If you’re doing business online, you need to have proper defenses in place. This is something companies of every industry could be doing a much better job at which explains why there are so many big names in the news these days turning up as hack victims. Target. Neiman Marcus. Zappos.

Then again, don’t assume you’re safe just in case you happen to be small. Some hackers take a high-volume, low yield approach to crime, targeting lots and lots of little guys, reaping their nefarious harvest in the aggregate.

Truth is, it can happen to anyone – and indeed it does.

How to protect your winery?

Of course, it’s important to make your system as secure as it can possibly be, of course. Choose providers who prioritize this stuff. Encrypt your data. Maintain strong firewalls. Practice PCI compliance. Restrict system access to those who need it, manage user privileges carefully, guard your unattended systems, change default passwords; the list goes on.

But as any responsible IT technician will readily tell you, on the information highway there’s simply no such thing as “absolute” security. Here’s the thing: hackers are pretty smart. Any line you draw can conceivably be crossed, if the right (i.e., wrong) hacker comes along at the right (i.e., wrong) time.

So in addition to beefing up your defenses, you’ll need to prepare a backup plan. How would you handle the fallout if your customer data ended up in the wrong hands? If you don’t happen to have a couple extra million stashed in the cookie jar, take a more affordable approach: Purchase cyber liability coverage.

Talk to us about your cyber liability exposures. We can help protect you from the costs of an unforeseen breach.

Heffernan’s Vintners and Growers Insurance Practice has more than 20 years of experience, and we assist wineries just starting out to large producers at 1M+ case goods annually.