Security Holes in Deere, Case IH Shine Spotlight on Agriculture Cyber Risk

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The agricultural equipment industry has long considered itself immune from cyber attacks. After all: farm equipment wasn’t Internet-connected and the software and protocols that it used were obscure. Besides: farms- and farm equipment held little in the way of sensitive personal or financial data that cybercriminals could easily monetize. 

But a lot has changed in the agriculture sector in the last decade. And farm country’s cybersecurity bill has come due…in a big way. A presentation at the annual DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas, scheduled for Sunday, will describe a host of serious, remotely exploitable holes in software and services by U.S. agricultural equipment giants John Deere and Case-IH. Together, the security flaws and misconfigurations could have given nation-state hackers access to- and control over Deere’s global product infrastructure, access to sensitive customer and third party data and, potentially, the ability to remotely access critical farm equipment like planters and harvesters that are the lynchpin of the U.S. food chain. 

Opinion: my Grandfather’s John Deere would support our Right to Repair

A video of the presentation, “The Agricultural Data Arms Race Exploiting a Tractor Load of Vulns,” was posted on YouTube by conference organizers on Thursday. It is the most detailed presentation, to date, of a range of flaws in Deere software and services that were first identified and disclosed to the company in April. The disclosure of two of those flaws in the company’s public-facing web applications set off a scramble by Deere and other agricultural equipment makers to patch the flaws, unveil a bug bounty program and to hire cyber security and embedded device security talent. 

Sick Codes (@SickCodes), an independent security researcher who declines to use his real name in public statements, worked with researchers from the group Sakura Samurai including wabaf3t; D0rkerDevil; ChiefCoolArrow; John Jackson; Robert Willis; and Higinio “w0rmer” Ochoa. Together, the group uncovered 11 other flaws in Deere software and applications and  that the group shared with the company as well as CISA, the Cybersecurity…