Agritech businesses should protect farmers from cyber-attacks, says Inmarsat
Agritech businesses should protect farmers from cyber-attacks, says Inmarsat

Agritech businesses should protect farmers from cyber-attacks, says Inmarsat

A global study of agritech businesses by Inmarsat has revealed that fewer than one in four are confident in their ability to counter IoT-related security threats.

A study of 100 large agritech companies from satellite communications company Inmarsat has found that while they are taking steps to deal with IoT security threats, they remain far from confident in their ability to deal with these threats – with potentially grim implications for the farmers that they serve. The findings are outlined in Inmarsat’s The Future of IoT in Enterprise – 2017 report.

More than half (52 percent) of respondents say they have invested in new security technologies to take into account IoT. But 45 percent admit that their process to counter cyber attacks could be stronger. Almost one in four (23 percent), meanwhile, said  that they would need to make heavy investments in their security capabilities if they were to be sure their customers could safely exploit IoT.

Read more: Myriota helps Australian farmers keep a remote eye on water tanks

Digging deeper

When the survey looked in more detail at the areas that were particularly in need of work, the Inmarsat study found that only 42 per cent of agritech companies had given special consideration to network security in the development of their IoT solutions.

The study also found there is a significant need for skills within the sector as over half (55%) of those in the research reported that they needed additional security skills.

These are serious issues for modern farmers, since technologies like IoT can potentially help them in many ways, according to Chris Harry-Thomas, director of sector development agriculture at Inmarsat Enterprise.

“IoT technologies are being leveraged to automate irrigation and fertilisation systems on farms, to add new precision to operations and reduce waste, and to automate farming machinery, reducing the need for manual intervention,” he said. “However, a more technology-dependent and connected farm is a more vulnerable one, without the necessary security protocols.”

“These threats are not trivial. Whereas an industrial-scale cyber attack in any industry can do significant harm to a business’s bottom line, such an attack in the agricultural sector could see whole crops decimated and have severe consequences for the quality of life of entire populations. It’s therefore critical that agritech businesses can take the necessary measures to counter these risks, and it’s clear from our research that there is a significant amount of room for improvement in this area.”

Read more: Real-time disease monitoring unearths power of IoT in agriculture