The amount of information farmers move around the internet has more than tripled in the last five years, opening up many new tech in the farm operation possibilities, but also creating a need for good cyber security. Having access to data in the cloud over various devices is king, according to Jeremy Hoffmann, Chair of the Cyber Security Program at Des Moines Area Community College. But he says there is a problem.
“Securing that data has really taken a back side to convenience. As we’ve learned with different breaches, like Target, Equifax, your data is important to people out there that want to either make money off of you or blackmail you as we’ve seen with hospitals, police departments, government agencies, where they lock you out of your entire business and demand ransom.”
One area Hoffmann says is especially vulnerable is when farmers aren’t careful where their updates come from or try to get around proprietary software to cut cost.
“The problem exists between user and not only that putting different software on their equipment to try and get around some proprietary things. That’s had some issues or consequences because it may destabilize GPS and information, but also it could provoke a man in the middle attach where someone else is getting your data. You’re getting the data but someone else may be collecting it at the same time.”
Sometimes the data may be at risk not from the farmer or the manufacturer, but by a third-party entity who is tasked with managing data collected for the supply company.
Hoffmann says producers best bet is to ask questions about their data security.
“The biggest thing is to get as much training as you can on the equipment and the software you’re using,” he said. “Vendors are more than happy to spend a lot of time with it. Also, find out where they’re storing the data. Is it being stored locally on your computer where you need to have multiple backups? Is it stored in the cloud where people may have access to it like other companies who’re trying to find out what kind of seed you’re using because it’s not theirs and also wanting to find out yield data? Is the company selling that data to other vendors as we’ve seen with other companies?”
Hoffmann adds your security needs to evolve with your information and it is as important as your inputs and equipment.
Source: NAFB News