Precision Ag Companies Strive for Cybersecurity, but Hacking Threat Remains

There is no such thing as an unhackable system if it’s connected to the Internet to share data. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo)

Can U.S. farmers and ranchers take advantage of the benefits precision agriculture promises and still be assured their data is protected?

One well-known precision ag business, linking producers and their data with the rest of agriculture, is Trimble. Cory Buchs, director of Trimble’s Connected Farm platform, understands concerns farmers have over companies’ abilities to protect that data.

“Carbon credits, collecting data to help make better decisions … all of these type things provide value. We can’t let the value overwhelm the importance of having security around the collection process. Rather it’s that very value that makes securing this data all the more important, especially as we interact with third parties and move data from devices, storage in the cloud, etc.”

In upcoming weeks, DTN/Progressive Farmer is posting a special series called Cybersecurity and Ag to examine the threat cyberattackers pose to agriculture and explore what farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses can do to protect themselves against these high-tech criminals.

Buchs says there is a lot a company like Trimble can do to protect farmers’ data, but there is also a need for all of agriculture to do a better job in the area of education about best technology practices on the farm.

“I think trends today tell us we will see more attempts at hacking,” he says. “That should only increase a company’s determination to stay ahead of those threats. It’s kind of a race of sophistication on both sides. If you’re a farmer, you have to ensure you only trust data to someone…