FBI Warns Farmers of Cyber-Security Threat with Precision Ag Use


securityFBIWarnsFarmersimageAn FBI advisory is encouraging farmers who use Internet-connected and precision farming equipment to be aware of the potential for data breaches by being particularly mindful of the way they connect their devices.

The advisory was issued on March 31 in conjunction with the USDA and warns that farm data saved with providers or on cloud accounts may be vulnerable.

The FBI advisory offered the following recommendations to help U.S. farmers and agricultural entities shore up their cyber-security policies:

  • Monitor employee logins that occur outside of normal business hours.
  • Use two-factor authentication for employee logins, especially for remote logins.
  • Create a centralized Information Technology email account for employees to report suspicious emails.
  • Provide regular training to remind and inform employees about current cyber-security threats.
  • Monitor unusual traffic, especially over non-standard ports.
  • Monitor outgoing data, and be willing to block unknown IP addresses.
  • Close unused ports.
  • Utilize a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for remote login capability.

If you’re a precision ag data user who stores data with a provider, it’s time to ask questions about the vendor’s cyber-security plan and gain some peace of mind.

In a 2014 survey of nearly 3,400 farmers, the American Farm Bureau found that nearly half planned to invest in some form of precision agriculture.

While 76 percent of respondents were worried unauthorized individuals could use their data for commodity market speculation, only about 5 percent were even aware that the companies holding their data had a security breach response plan.