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Farm Owners Advised to Watch Out for Cyber Attacks

Large and small farms in Arkansas could be targeted by cyber thieves.(USDA)
Large and small farms in Arkansas could be targeted by cyber thieves.(USDA)
April 18, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Cyber attacks are reported in the news all the time, but you don't often think of the victims being farmers, but it's a real threat.

Larry Clinton, president of Internet Security Alliance, an information security think tank, says many of the agriculture industry's closely held secrets are vulnerable.

"There's valuable soil and content data,” he explains. “There's GMO variables. There's pesticide and chemical formulas, genetic engineering, innovative animal breeding techniques, planting, harvesting, processing, storage, transporting. There's a lot of important business data there."

Clinton says hackers easily bypass firewalls, passwords and other typical ways of protecting data, and the agriculture industry lags behind when it comes to protecting itself.

And Clinton says it's not just big agribusiness at risk.

"Many smaller farms serve as feeders, essentially, up into the larger elements of the system, so sharing information and securing everybody is really what's necessary here," he stresses.

Clinton says trade secrets are currently the biggest risk, but cyber terrorists could one day go after data or even computer-controlled farm equipment in a way that jeopardizes the U.S. food supply.



Veronica Carter, Public News Service - AR