How Dangerous Are The Cyber Security Threats Against Precision Agriculture Systems?


Internet is covering all the spheres of the world, and agriculture is not left behind either. Internet is being used in various forms in the field of agriculture. Starting from the use of net powered systems to get more information about the weather or about the crops. Internet is indeed helping the farmers in a lot of amazing ways. Also, though the power of online networks, the farmers are now trying to sell their crops at better prices as well. So, it won’t be wrong to say that the Internet has turned out to be a boon for the farmers. 

Let alone the internet, even the capabilities of AI and Big Data are beautifully harnessed by the farmers. Proper Big Data analytics help the farmers to understand more about their seeds, the conditions etc. This helps them to choose the best seeds and yield the best of crops. At the same time, these technologies have a major role to play in helping the farmers improve their yields. Therefore, this is indeed the era, where farmers are also making full use of the internet and various online offerings which are turning out to be extremely beneficial for them. 

The importance of ‘Internet’, ‘Technology’ and ‘Online Data’ in Agriculture 

You would be surprised to know that plenty of data is collaborated and exchanged in the agricultural industry. However, the main focus area of all the data, programs and initiatives is to churn and use this data in such a way that helps the farmers to grow better. Basically, useful and impactful insights are required to be yielded from the data captured. Data needs to be processed in a way that it gives efficient results. 

It is believed that by 2050, the population will reach 9.7 billion mark, and thus, we would need efficient mechanisms to improve the production of food. Agricultural technology and IoT can together try and lead to 70 increase in yield. Therefore, both the role of the internet and technology is massive. 

Is there any cybersecurity threat in agriculture? 

As per a current report generated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, it was reported that there are plenty of cybersecurity risks to Precision Agriculture. Cybersecurity risks are majorly related to the new technologies which are being adopted in the field of agriculture. Precision agriculture basically comprises of various new-age technologies like GPS, remote sensors and other IoT devices. It also includes the communications networks which connect all of these devices. All of these devices produce heaps of data. The data which is generated is further analyzed by machine learning programs. And, the information which is generated is used by the farming sites to enhance the quality of the crop, boost yield and to review the health of livestock.

Having said that, it is quite evident that internet, data and networks have major roles to play in agricultural fields now. But, at the same time, if these network and devices are not secured, they can turn out to be harmful to the farmers as well. 

How and why to protect the farming fields from the threats of cyber-attacks? 

Agriculture is undoubtedly a tremendously mechanical labour-intensive space. As, it is now linked to the internet therefore, the attack surface for cyber threat actors have also amplified. Attacks could be massive. Also, as agriculture is not only at risk of cyber-attacks abut also natural calamities or insider threats, therefore, this makes it all the more important for the experts to safeguard the industry at least from the cyber threats. Data theft, sale of confidential data, publishing of intimate information, fabrication of data for disruption activities, disruption of the communication networks etc. are some of the common threats faced by the agricultural experts. 

However, there are various technologies and programs which can safeguard the industry from any kind of threats as well. Implementation of proper information security protocols is one of the best ways to get rid of cyber-attacks. Also, equipment interoperability is one of the other ways. Apart from this, the main focus area should be to safeguard the data generation and use practices. Data is very important for agricultural fields. Therefore, it is utmost important to take care of the data and it’s processing. 

The digital revolution in the field of agriculture is turning out to be extremely beneficial both for the farmers and the public. Therefore, it is important to make sure that digitalization is expanded and proper cybersecurity measures are taken to develop the trust of the farmers in online activities.