A Scary Idea As “Smart Farms” May Risk Being Hacked

With digital technology becoming commonplace within the agriculture industry, it’s no surprise to learn that cyber threats are on the rise as well.


As the world population grows and food insecurity remains, artificial intelligence, drones, and the internet are set to help mitigate costs and increase the abundance of food globally. But with this increase in intelligent automation comes the question of what the cybersecurity risk entails. While we may imagine drones flying high above the fields watering plants, there’s also the question of whether this technology will face issues in the realm of livestock breeding and greenhouse cultivation. The jury is still out on the latter two.

One of the driving forces for implementing this tech is the consistent change in environmental conditions over the last few decades. Warming temperatures could signal a loss of agriculture across the United States and Europe. In order to prepare for these changes, there’s been an uptick in utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, for precision farming. While useful, using a remote control aircraft can come with downsides.

The main issue with using drones is the fact that control systems in rural areas don’t come with the same strong networks as those in the city. Poor signal, bad connections and a lack of systems in place for device security means cyber attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in this type of infrastructure.

Existing technologies can be implemented to enhance data protection, however new datasets need to be tested in order to reduce the likelihood of security loopholes. Since smart agriculture is a newer and still developing industry, there remains time for security experts to create updated and fortified layers of protection to keep such an important infrastructure safe.

While precision farming seems interesting and profitable, we’ll have to wait and see how sensitive information across different forms of network and hardware will be handled. Without secure and reliable data protection, it’s unclear how safe this type of process will be.

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