Expert Says Farmers Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks


Cyber attacks are reported in the news all the time, but you don’t often think of farmers as being potential victims. Internet Security Alliance President Larry Clinton says many of the agriculture industry’s closely held secrets are vulnerable.

“There’s valuable soil and content data; there’s GMO variables; there’s pesticide and chemical formulas, genetic engineering, innovative animal breeding techniques, planting, harvesting, processing, storing, transporting. There’s a lot of important business data there.”

Clinton says firewalls, passwords and other typical ways of protecting data are easily bypassed by hackers, and the agriculture industry lags behind when it comes to protecting itself. He adds it’s not just big agribusiness that’s at risk.

“Many smaller farms serve as feeders, essentially, up into the larger elements of the system, so sharing information and securing everybody is really what’s necessary here.”

Clinton says trade secrets are currently the most at risk, but cyber terrorists could one day go after data or even computer-controlled farm equipment in a way that jeopardizes the U.S. food supply.