Cybersecurity

DHS gets in the weeds on cyber threats to agriculture

By Budimir Jevtic shutterstock photo ID: 620530799 

As farmers and big agricultural companies learn to leverage data to maximize crop yields, automate equipment and market their products, DHS warned in a new report that they face a widening cyber threat -- not only from data thieves, but also possible equipment saboteurs and market manipulators.

DHS' Threats to Precision Agriculture report looks at cyber vulnerabilities in embedded and connected technologies that harness remote sensing, global positioning systems and communication systems to generate big data, data analytics and machine learning to manage crops and livestock.

Cyber threats to the agricultural infrastructure are consistent with other connected industries, said DHS, but given farming's mechanized history, those threats are not well understood or treated seriously enough.

The security threats to precision agriculture range from simple data theft, to market manipulations, destruction of equipment, or even a national security concern, according to the report.

DHS outlines alarming scenarios in which malicious actors might manipulate data to wreak havoc on agricultural markets with falsified crop or livestock data, target individual agribusinesses or spy on critical infrastructure through foreign-made drones bought by U.S. farmers.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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