AgTech revolution leaving sector prone to cyber risks

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 30 May, 2022

AgTech revolution leaving sector prone to cyber risks

The global AgTech revolution could be key to feeding the ever-increasing human population, but could also leave the sector at risk of cyber attacks, according to researchers at Flinders University.

The researchers worked with their counterparts at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia and Aix-Marseille University, France to conduct complex IT and mathematical modelling of the risk to the global supply chain.

According to the authors, the transformation to digital agriculture led by the adoption of smart sensors can improve the quality and quantity of food for the ever-increasing human population, which is forecast to reach 10.9 billion by 2100.

But Flinders University researcher Dr Saeed Rehman said the rise of internet-connected, low-power smart devices could also leave the sector prone to cyber attacks, particularly if the sector doesn’t take adequate precautions like other corporate or defence sectors.

“Digital agriculture is not immune to cyber attack, as seen by interference to a US watering system, a meatpacking firm, wool broker software and an Australian beverage company,” he said.

“Security threats and vulnerabilities to digital agriculture [include] possible side-channel attacks specific to ag-tech applications.”

Co-author Flinders Professor David Glynn said side-channel attacks involve extraction of cryptographic or sensitive information from the operation of physical hardware.

“These attacks could be easily carried out with physical access to devices, which the cybersecurity community has not explicitly investigated,” he said.

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