This interview featured Will Cromarty (CEO and Founder of Kirkwall, a cybersecurity company focused on autonomous systems) and Kasey Bitz (farmer, teacher, and president of the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association), discussing the reasons why cybersecurity in agriculture is so important. Here are some of the key points that were covered throughout the discussion.
The Importance of Cybersecurity in Agriculture
- Cybersecurity is a critical topic in agriculture due to the time-sensitive nature of farming operations, where a cyber attack during critical seasons like planting or harvest could be devastating to food production and global food security.
- Agriculture’s increasing reliance on advanced equipment, IoT-enabled Ag Tech, and cloud-based systems has raised concerns about potential vulnerabilities to cyber threats.
- The impact of cybersecurity extends beyond individual farms, with potential risks to the power grid, manufacturing, and supply chains affecting the entire agricultural sector.
The Role of Government and Industry
- The FBI has recognized agriculture as a top concern for cyber attacks and is hosting a conference focused on security in the agricultural context. USDA’s attention to cybersecurity in agriculture is growing, and it’s essential for farmers to engage with relevant entities and participate in education and training programs.
- Cybersecurity ownership is shared between the government, industry, and individual farmers, with collaboration needed to proactively address cybersecurity challenges.
Challenges and Proactive Approaches
- Farmers may not prioritize cybersecurity due to their busy schedules, but it’s vital to ensure that advanced equipment, monitors, and cloud-based systems are secured to maintain smooth operations.
- The growing integration of technology in agriculture, such as GPS, automation, and data analytics, increases the need for secure systems to avoid potential disruptions.
- Cybersecurity companies like Kirkwall advocate for a proactive approach to cybersecurity, emphasizing education, training, and risk assessment to prevent and mitigate cyber threats.
As agriculture becomes more technologically advanced and interconnected, cybersecurity becomes a critical aspect of maintaining a resilient and secure farming sector. Collaboration between government, industry, and individual farmers is essential to address cybersecurity challenges and safeguard global food security.