by Jane Marsh, Editor-in-Chief at Environment.co. as it appeared in Global AgTech
Agriculture has seen an increase in online threats. Here’s why the sector has become a target, the attacks it faces and five ways it can stay safe from malicious actors.
Why Has the Agriculture Sector Become a Target?
Agriculture technology (ag tech) has made many daily operations easier and it aids with increasing output. It relies on different devices and software to help with efficiency, yield and profitability.
The technology can include computers, robotics, drones, software and vehicles. One of the reasons agriculture has become a target for cyberattacks is due to the vital part it plays in the economy. Farmers could be inclined to make desperate choices to get their businesses up and running again if they fall victim to ransomware attacks.
Farms are also easy targets. For years, the main goal of the agriculture sector was to increase performance and improve safety. However, it must now also focus on implementing cybersecurity measures to protect against online threats.
Many farms have not done that yet and are unaware of cybersecurity’s vital role. Unfortunately, this makes them easy targets for malicious actors.
Recent Cyberattacks in the Industry
In September 2021, the FBI released a report outlining the different cyberattacks plaguing the food and agriculture sector. A ransomware attack caused massive financial damage to a U.S. farm in January.
An unidentified cybercriminal accessed compromised administrative login information and used it to attack internal servers. The farm needed to temporarily shut down and lost $9 million.
This was not an isolated incident. There were six ransomware attacks against grain cooperatives in 2021 and two possible cyberattacks on a feeding mill company the following year.
Another farm cyberattack occurred in November 2020 when an agriculture business could not access its computer systems. The criminals sent a phishing email with a harmful zip file attachment.
The threat actors encrypted much of the farm’s data and wanted it to pay a $40 trillion ransom fee for the safe return of the information. After the criminals conducted their encryption technique, they stole terabytes full of information. Fortunately, the farm regained control of the situation and restored its systems to operational effect via backup copies.
Cyberattacks can cause massive problems if operations don’t take proper preventive measures.
5 Ways Farmers Can Protect Themselves From Cyberattacks
Ag tech and other techniques, such as permaculture and plastic-free packaging, are the future of the agriculture sector. However, farms should consider implementing security measures to efficiently protect their business from online threats. Farmers investing in cybersecurity best practices are prepared for potential online attacks. Here are five ways organizations can defend themselves.
1. Have a Dedicated Contingency Plan
2. Implement Network Segmentation and Conduct Regular Backups
3. Protect Login Information
4. Put Measures in Place Against Phishing Attacks
5. Install Antivirus Software and Keep It Updated
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