THE agriculture sector overestimates the threat of activists hacking their data and underestimates the risk of attacks on their supply chains, a new cyber security report has revealed.
The report commissioned by AgriFutures found although the industry is cashing in on the technological revolution, it needs to improve its management of the risks that come with digital opportunities.
Earlier this year, all Australian JBS meat processing plants were shut down affecting 10,000 workers. In 2020, almost 70,000 bales of wool - with an estimated worth of up to $80m - were grounded for a week when hackers disabled a trading system, demanding a multi-million-dollar ransom.
A survey conducted as part of the research found only 16 per cent of businesses had an incident response plan in place.
The industry is three times as concerned about activists than other sectors, which was "understandable given past events, but likely to be an overestimation".
The sector is also three times as concerned about competitors hacking systems, however is almost 90 per cent less concerned about supply chains putting data at risk.
"What these results mean is that sector businesses may have a false sense of security, as they probably overestimate the threat of certain cyber attacks, and underestimate others," the report stated.
"This points to the possibility that the sectors don't really understand their cyber threats as well as they should."
In the last decade agtech investment has surged, with over US$6.7 billion invested in the last five years alone, including over US$1.9 billion in the last 18 months.
BDO cyber security partner John Borchi said rural businesses were in a similar position to where the health system was five years ago, when the digitisation of patient records made them a prime target for cyber criminals.
"Australia's rural industries are at the beginning of the cyber security journey," he said.
"In recent years there has been a rapid uptake of technology, and with this, an increased risk of digital attacks."
AgriFuture's rural issues manager Georgina Townsend said rural industries had to understand their own "cyber fragility" and prepare accordingly.
"Cyber security threats on farm can be far reaching and span personal privacy, sensitive farm information, and even IP related to skills, knowledge and data from farming systems," Ms Townsend said.
"This latest research aims to arm rural business with practical solutions so producers can continue to access the technologies that deliver important gains for their operations."
For many producers, simple solutions such as automatic software updates, antivirus software and multi-factor authentication are all that is needed. Digitally-enabled businesses may need more complex security.
The story Hackers not activists: ag industry doesn't understand cyber threats first appeared on Farm Online.