A Double-Edged Sword: How Cyber Risk Associated With “Smart” Technology is Quickly Mounting in the Agriculture Equipment Industry

Jan 29, 2021

A Double-Edged Sword: How Cyber Risk Associated With “Smart” Technology is Quickly Mounting in the Agriculture Equipment Industry Image

In recent years the agriculture equipment industry has seen the vast and rapid development of “smart” and precision ag technology, which have allowed farming operations to increase yields and efficiency while simultaneously combating labor shortages. These operations have become heavily dependant on these technologies to remain competitive. As a result, agricultural equipment manufacturers and dealers have seen an increased demand for autonomous machinery, sensors, information management, and services associated with these technologies.

These technologies have tremendous upside; however, they come with greater security implications due to the increased number of devices on an organization’s network, their interconnected and autonomous nature, and the required management of the vast amounts of data these devices use and produce. Due to the rapid adoption of smart technologies, coupled with security oversites resulting from the lack of cyber education within the industry, cybersecurity initiatives have struggled to keep pace. This has opened equipment manufacturers, dealers, and farming operations to scrutiny by cybercriminals and hostile actors, garnering the need for increased cybersecurity measures to protect these organizations’ data, equipment, functionality, and reputation as the application of smart technology continues to grow.

Smart technology is being incorporated across the entire agricultural process. Planters, cultivators, and harvesters are increasingly becoming autonomous; sensors that collect data and autonomously determine the application rate of inputs are being integrated into systems; and artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, and cloud systems are widely used to automatically compile and analyze data that inform important business decisions. These are all in the process of being connected via the Internet of Things (IoT) as well, allowing them to work together with limited human interaction. These technologies have reduced and changed the role humans serve within these systems.

These advancements come at a cost, however, as the strength of these systems can be their biggest weakness. The growing number of smart devices and their widespread interconnectivity on your network, and an increasing number of these inputs running autonomously with internet access, put these systems at greater risk. All it takes is one “weak link” to leave your organization’s network exposed. Anything from an employee on your network, a cloud misconfiguration, or an unprotected IoT device can allow cybercriminals access to your network. Once they’re in, hackers can gain access to other systems and smart devices, sabotaging physical equipment and inventory, stealing and encrypting essential information, and altering important and precise data inputs in your system.

Due to decreased human interaction with some of these systems, when a breach occurs, it’s more likely to go undetected for longer. The longer hackers have access to your network, the more damage they can cause. Without proper monitoring and detection, vulnerabilities may not be detected until well after extensive and irreversible damage is done. When severe and affecting medium and small-sized organizations, damage can be so vast it causes an organization’s full closure.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of widespread education on the subject, many organizations within the agriculture equipment industry have largely overlooked cybersecurity. As a result, cyber issues are not yet frequently discussed amongst equipment manufacturers or dealers. The aforementioned risks make it especially important that these discussions occur, and that organizations become mindful of the risks they take on when working with and handling smart devices, cloud systems, and large amounts of data. With a keen focus on protecting the agriculture and construction equipment industries, Secuvant is in a unique position to inform and guide this discussion with your organization. We can conduct a cyber risk assessment to identify where your organization is vulnerable and what actions can be taken to keep your resources secure. Our focused development of a specialized agriculture and construction equipment channel, mentored by our Board of Directors member Jim Walker, the former Executive Vice President and leader of Case IH North America, postures us to develop elite tailored solutions that fit your budget and business, regardless of your organization’s size. When it comes to your organization’s security, it’s crucial to act before it’s too late. Click here to learn more about how Secuvant’s superior cybersecurity services can benefit your organization and to talk with a Secuvant Expert today.

About Secuvant:

Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, Secuvant is a global leader in integrated cyber threat analytics and risk advisory services, built on a value system of client focus, integrity, accountability, execution, and teamwork. Secuvant’s mission is to provide clients with a Clear Path Forward in their pursuit of establishing an acceptable security risk posture. Secuvant’s success is built upon strict adherence to its values, a functioning world-class advisory board, the unique combination of cybersecurity expertise and industry / vertical specialization, and a team of experts that repeatedly deliver best-in-class managed and advisory cybersecurity and risk services. Secuvant understands Cyber Risk is Business Risk™ and uses methodologies and metrics aimed at minimizing business risk. Services include, but are not limited to, Security Gap and Risk Assessments, Risk Program Management, Executive and Board Cyber Advisory, Penetration Testing, Security Monitoring, Managed Detection and Response and Incident Response services. To learn more, visit www.secuvant.com.