Agritech businesses in race to protect farmers from cyber-threats
Agritech businesses in race to protect farmers from cyber-threats

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to revolutionise the farming and agricultural sector, but many agritech companies are concerned by the cyber-threats associated with the technology.

Independent research commissioned by Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), found that although the vast majority of agritech companies are moving towards IoT, less than a quarter (23 per cent) are completely confident in their ability to counter the security threats that IoT will bring.

Market Research specialist Vanson Bourne interviewed over 100 large agritech company respondents, and although more than half of them (52 percent) admitted that they had invested in new security technologies to accommodate IoT, 45 percent said that they agreed their processes to combat cyber-attacks could be stronger. Out of the respondents interviewed, 23 percent said they would need to make heavy investments in their security capabilities to enable their customers to safely exploit IoT.

In the report, network and skills emerged as two key areas that needed improvement. Just 42 percent of agritech companies had given special consideration to network security in the development of their IoT solutions, while over half (55 percent) reported that they needed additional security skills.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Harry-Thomas, Director of Sector Development Agriculture, Inmarsat Enterprise, said: “Agritechs are already proving a boon for farmers, deploying technologies like IoT to help them speed up the journey that food takes from ‘seed to bin' and from ‘farm to fork'. 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. 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,” he concluded.