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Common Cybersecurity Attacks in the Agriculture Sector

The agriculture sector is a key part of Canada’s economy, trade and food supply. A cybersecurity breach to agricultural operations could become detrimental. As technology advances, it’s important to know how to protect your business..

The following are attacks that are, or are anticipated to be, a high probability in the agriculture sector:

  • Data integrity attack. A data integrity attack occurs when a cyberthreat actor targets an operation, modifies its data and then releases it to the public. The false information can lead to a loss of product value, stock value, trade relationships and public trust.
  • Sensor hack. This type of hack allows cybercriminals to submit rogue data into a sensor network. For example, cybercriminals could manipulate data in an irrigation sensor network to require continuous watering, leading to field floods and significant crop damage.  
  • Internet of things (IoT) attack. An IoT attack gives a cyberthreat actor access to the automated, interconnected technology that maintains farming operations. This threat can cause damage to both crop and animal health, as well as production.
  • Ransomware. Ransomware compromises agriculture operations by encrypting data and halting production until a ransom is paid. This type of attack can be detrimental to smaller operations, considering that, in some attacks, data has remained withheld even after ransoms were paid.

As the agriculture sector becomes an increasingly interconnected service, Canadian farm operators and other stakeholders should integrate resources related to cybersecurity into their farming operations. These include assessing risks and implementing security, extending current security practices, implementing security awareness and staff training and purchasing cyber insurance.