With more and more agriculture companies becoming ransomware attack victims, we can’t stress enough the importance of improving cybersecurity in the agriculture and food industries. Unlike other sectors, cyberattacks on agriculture can have grave consequences. Financial loss is just the least scary or the best possible consequence, with mass-scale food contamination, adulteration, food shortages, and supply-side open inflation topping the list. These are the topics brought to light in an article by Minnipost.
A few weeks back, Alliant Cybersecurity pointed out the risks and vulnerabilities the agriculture industry faces because of increased reliance on automation, Internet of Things(IoT) devices, and computers. When adopted in the 1990s, these tools brought in much efficiency but have become a sizeable cyber liability. Many production lines run on outdated software, like Windows 98 or early versions of Linux, and securing them is now a costly liability. These machines are just sitting ducks in an open season, waiting to be hacked.
Measures to Improve Cybersecurity In Agriculture Sector
The helplessness of the sector is well-known, and many experts have pointed out that the lack of basic cybersecurity hygiene is the reason for the situation being particularly bad in the sector. These suggestions include simple practices such as enabling multi-factor authentication and using password managers, more cautious habits such as taking regular back-ups, keeping all the software updated, disconnecting the devices from the internet when not used or required, and more. While increasing awareness is the key to tackling the problem at a basic level, the lack of convenience to the novice users in the sector made them unpopular.
AgriGrowth, a nonprofit organization representing Minnesota agriculture, is calling for a more balanced approach to tackle the issue in the article. They point that there are no federal or state grant programs to support cybersecurity for agriculture financially. We will ask the government to bring some pilot programs to improve the cybersecurity agriculture sector, mentioned Tamara Nelsen, executive director of AgriGrowth.
We couldn’t agree more! There is no time to lose. The government should incentivize the companies that offer cybersecurity solutions in these areas and the farmers and cooperatives for implementing them. These solutions must come to the field at the earliest.