Hackers instead of activists: Ag industry does not understand cyber threats | North Queensland Register


THE agricultural sector overestimates the threat posed by activists hacking their data and underestimates the risk of their supply chains being attacked, a new cyber security report has revealed.

The report commissioned by AgriFutures found that while the industry is benefiting from the technological revolution, it needs to improve its management of the risks associated with digital opportunities.

Earlier this year, all of JBS’s Australian meat processing plants were shut down, affecting 10,000 workers. In 2020, nearly 70,000 balls of wool – valued at up to $ 80 million – were suspended for a week when hackers disabled a trading system and demanded a multi-million dollar ransom.

A survey conducted as part of the study found that only 16 percent of companies have an incident response plan.

The industry is three times more concerned about activists than other sectors, which was “understandable, given past events, but likely an overestimation”.

The industry is also three times as concerned about competitor hacking systems, but is almost 90 percent less concerned about supply chains that compromise data.

“These results mean that industry companies may have a false sense of security because they are likely to overestimate the threat posed by certain cyberattacks and underestimate others,” the report said.

“This suggests the possibility that sectors are not really understanding their cyber threats as well as they should.”

Investments in the agtech industry have risen sharply over the past decade, with over $ 6.7 billion invested in the last five years alone, including over $ 1.9 billion in the past 18 months.

BDO cybersecurity partner John Borchi said rural businesses were in a similar position to the health system five years ago when the digitization of patient records made them a prime target for cyber criminals.

“Australia’s rural industry is at the beginning of the cybersecurity journey,” he said.

“In recent years the technology has spread rapidly and with it an increased risk of digital attacks.”

Georgina Townsend, AgriFuture’s rural affairs manager, said rural industries need to understand their own “cyber fragility” and prepare accordingly.

“Farm cybersecurity threats can be far-reaching and include privacy, sensitive farm information and even intellectual property related to skills, knowledge and data from farming systems,” Townsend said.

“This latest research aims to equip rural businesses with practical solutions so that producers can continue to access the technologies that provide important benefits to their operations.”

For many manufacturers, simple solutions such as automatic software updates, anti-virus software and multi-factor authentication are sufficient. Digitally-assisted businesses may require more complex security.

The story of hackers instead of activists: Ag industry does not understand cyber threats, first appeared on Farm Online.


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