Can U.S. farmers and ranchers take advantage of precision farming and still be sure their data is secure?
“Carbon credits, collecting data to make better decisions … all of these things have value. We cannot allow value to overwhelm the importance of security around the collection process. Rather, it is precisely this value that makes securing this data all the more important, especially when we interact with third parties and move data from devices, storage in the cloud, etc. “
A well-known Precision AG company that links producers and their data with the rest of agriculture is Trimble. Cory Buchs, Director of Trimble’s Connected Farm Platform, understands farmers ‘concerns about companies’ ability to protect this data.
In the coming weeks, DTN / Progressive Farmer is releasing a special series called Cybersecurity and Ag to investigate the threat posed by cyber attackers to agriculture and what farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses can do to protect themselves from these high-tech criminals to protect.
“I think today’s trends are telling us we’ll see more hacking attempts,” he says. “That should only strengthen a company’s determination to stay one step ahead of these threats. It’s kind of a race of sophistication on both sides. When you are a farmer, you need to make sure that you only entrust data to someone who is willing to invest in up-to-date security protocols, processes, and tools that will keep your data safe. We do that at Trimble, and so do most of the larger, more established agribusiness companies. “
Buchs says a company like Trimble can do a lot to protect farmers’ data, but agriculture as a whole also needs to do a better job educating best technology practices on the farm.
Buchs cautions that sometimes it is a greater risk to work with startups that may have fewer resources to invest in security log areas. He says organizations should be transparent when asked about security processes and procedures by users or potential users. There are also resources available to help laypeople rate companies, including online sources to see companies that have been hacked.
Buchs notes that the best companies have put in place tools for instant intrusion detection and vulnerability analysis. They rely on tools like multi-factor authentication, which he believes is a best practice for protecting customer data from the first line of attack. These protocols require more than one device to login.
In the case of Trimble, Buchs adds that cybersecurity has benefited from being part of a larger, global company with non-agriculture businesses in construction and geospatial computing that have similar challenges to solve. Well-known companies, Buchs emphasizes, value investing in security, and they have backups. “Given the value of a farm’s data, it’s important to have backups and be able to restore data in case something happens,” he says.
So what about recovery? Is it days or weeks? In the case of Trimble, it’s minutes to hours, says Buchs. “We work in the cloud and have access at all times. For us, recovery is not a long process. ”THE CLOUD IS NOT A SHIELD
To be clear, having your data in the cloud is not a complete or bulletproof answer. Unfortunately, the cloud is also hackable. “In general, anything connected to the Internet is hackable,” explains Trimble’s Buchs. “That’s the inherent risk of connecting to the cloud. But companies like Trimble have invested in ensuring the safety and security of this traffic. Data from your Trimble equipment and the cloud is encrypted and stored behind a firewall where it is monitored for intruders. In addition, other sophisticated methods are used to ensure security. There are always risks and I think the threat to agriculture has increased. We need to have a high level of security at all times. That won’t change. “
When it comes to Precision ag, it’s not always the data criminals. Often it is the technology itself that has the value, explains Buchs. He says hackers often try to steal trade secrets to sell outside of the United States in order to bring foreign companies to American technology levels without investing the cost and time. “There is a real incentive in agriculture,” Buchs continued. “It’s not just about a lot of money, but also about food – an important livelihood and a source of stability. These are high stakes and we have to keep one step ahead of the threat. “
Summary of the news:
- Precision agriculture companies try cybersecurity, but hacking threat continues
- Check out all the news and articles on the latest security updates.