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​​Agriculture under attack; how hackers are exploiting your farm and farm machinery

​While there’s often a story in the media of a high profile company, celebrity, council or politician being hacked, little reported is that of the hacking and capability to be hacked within agriculture.

The war in Ukraine has shown the ability of John Deere & Massey Ferguson to remotely disable machinery stolen and transported into Russia. While this has happened in mainland Europe, there’s nothing to stop the manufacturers doing the same in the UK with more modern machinery.

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A simple Google search of ‘hacking John Deere’ even highlights a US group dedicated and actively encouraging farmers to hack their John Deere’s electrical system in protest at their overly strict security protocols.

Disruption like this can cause serious food supply chain issues and not just harm you or your farm business. While the examples featured above may seem far away or trivial, those who disagree with modern farming methods, such as animal activist groups, are close to being able to access this same disabling technology.

Oliver Burns, Sales & Marketing Manager at County and a keen rural cyber enthusiast, said: “Many farms I visit think of data liability and cyber-crime as a low risk to them and don’t see the need to protect that frontier on farm. Even something simple like mobile phones are a gateway to control key functions on farm and hold valuable data on the farm business.”

​Cyber-crime alone cost the UK economy £2.5billion last year according to a National Fraud Intelligence Bureau report. This is just the reported crime, with many believing that victims don’t come forward for fear of embarrassment or loss of reputation.

 

AGCO, the large US agricultural equipment maker behind names such as Massey Ferguson, suffered an attack in early May 2022 on it’s production facilities in a number of locations. Some machinery dealers have been unable to order spare parts on their trade website for days. In the current supply chain squeezes this is an interruption to income they can ill-afford.

Oliver continues: “The best way to manage your on farm cyber exposure is to engage the help of your younger generation when it comes to new products/machinery, appoint a good local IT firm to help manage your tech and transfer the risk to a proper cyber insurance policy.”

 

To find out more contact Oliver on 01865 290916