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Meet SSI’s Chief Security Officer

Published on

13 Mar 2024

SSI is proactively addressing the cyber security needs of agribusiness and cooperative customer businesses by adding expertise and leadership. In the fall of 2023, Austin Jabs joined the SSI team as the Chief Security Officer (CSO). In this role, Jabs assists retailers and cooperatives that utilize Agvance and Energy Force to operate and grow their business in a digitally safe and secure environment.

“As time has gone on, I think that the necessity of having somebody at the helm to guide security initiatives becomes more and more evident. Agribusiness is not immune to that. What our customers do is a vital piece of infrastructure when it comes to feeding people and to do that you need to have your critical systems running effectively,” says Jabs. “SSI recognized the need to have someone in place to lead our auditing initiatives and a resource our customers could rely on if they had questions or concerns.”

Austin Jabs brings that expertise and communication style backed by dual degrees in Business Management and Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. He comes to SSI with over 13 years of experience managing corporate information technology and security in both the healthcare and finance industries. He and his wife Hayley reside near the SSI Shelbyville location in Neoga with their two daughters McKinley, 6 and Penelope, 3. He says that several people told him about the positive atmosphere at SSI and that has proven true. After interviewing and meeting with members of the leadership team, he knew this was exactly where he wanted to be. His security expertise and passion for solving problems have proven to be a good fit.

In describing the role Jabs says, “we are very proactive when it comes to security and to make sure that the pieces are in place before we need them.” He makes personal connections with customers and addresses their specific business security concerns. “I'm here to make sure that we're doing things the right way for the right reasons. We are committed to doing things that are scalable as both SSI and our customers continue to grow.”

On any given day as CSO you can find Jabs keeping a pulse on what is happening in cyber security across the country in agriculture, technology, or any other industry. Monitoring news sources, auditing, and other research is a key part of keeping systems secure. “We have all heard of companies with one incident within their organization that potentially shut them down for 24 hours to 24 days” says Jabs. “Assuring our customers that their data is secure within our organization is paramount to me. We may not be able to see everything within your four walls, but I know we are doing everything possible to make sure that your data remains safe, secure, and available.”

Training is an additional initiative and an important way each business can help ensure security. Jabs says that following the best practices below will go a long way towards keeping your business secure:

  • Keep all computer usage to business only
  • Monitor your antivirus software and follow up with anomalies
  • Invest in annual or bi-annual (third-party) penetration assessments
  • Commit to monthly training with staff on phishing emails and cybersecurity education
  • Stress the responsibility each user has for the protection of your networks and data

Jabs says he is a resource and welcomes customers reaching out with any incidents or concerns. “I think the number one thing we are doing for our customers right now is keeping the line of communication open. I welcome those questions because our customers’ security is a priority. I think for any company, especially in 2024, security is always top of mind.”

Email: Austin Jabs, Chief Security Officer

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