Cybersecurity: Team Reported Precision Ag Threat in 2018 – DTN

    A farmer harvesting sugar cane touches an on-board computer screen created by Solinftec, a leading digital ag company based in Brazil. Solinftec connects machines and sensors to give farmers access to real-time information to help improve growing efficiency. (Image provided)

    In 2018, 11 team members from the U.S. government and private sector outlined threats as they perceived them, in a public-private analytic exchange program: “Threats to Precision Agriculture.”

    Key threats they identified included the following:


    Data privacy in the areas of crop yields, land prices and even animal herd health were spotted as concerns. The report noted that loss or misuse of data could have financial and emotional impacts at the farm level, and that there could also be a loss of reputation and business for both equipment and software manufacturers in the event of a breach.

    Areas the group noted were especially treacherous included the use of decision support systems that could by design be malicious and steal data; intentional publishing of confidential information such as market data from within an industry to cause chaos; and even foreign access to unmanned aerial systems.

    The group identified at least one threat where a company was approached with offers to sell data under the table to commodity brokers or hedge funds.


    Here the group considered how “smart farming” could be manipulated. They pointed to intentional falsification of data to disrupt crop or livestock sectors, even to the point of planting false data that mimicked actual reports prior to or during a livestock disease outbreak.

    The same could apply to crops. Smart sensors could be used to disrupt automation systems and HVACs, potentially damaging stored crops or resulting in adverse health impacts to animals.


    As farmers and ranchers rely on their equipment, the timing of its availability to them could lead to damage or a failure to meet optimal planting or harvest windows. Malicious actors, the report noted, could possibly identify a vulnerable type of equipment and disrupt thousands of machines at once.

    There is a related concern that Global Positioning System signal access could be denied, and that rural cellular and broadband networks continue to be a weak point for agricultural security.

    To read the full report go here.


    Next in the series: Commodity markets work to stay a step ahead of disruptors.

    You can find earlier stories in this series at:

    Victoria Myers can be reached at

    Follow her on Twitter @myersPF

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