Security Oversights Can Put Your Farm at Risk

Security Oversights Can Put Your Farm at Risk

Article By: Randy Yeast, Chief Technology Officer for SFB

Often security of the technology used within agricultural systems, such as off-road equipment and machinery, food and grain processing, radio-frequency identification tags and numerous other information systems that run behind the scenes is often overlooked or not given much consideration. Focus is generally on crop progressions, milk outputs, or other efficiency numbers that generate income and sustain the farming community. These oversights can cause operational interruptions thus leading to lost profitability in a competitive marketplace and leaving the future of your operation at risk.

In 2010, the USDA and FDA both classified cybersecurity as a low priority; however, in 2015, both agencies reversed course, and each has been tasked since 2019 with increasing their agencies' cybersecurity strength prioritizing those with working relationships with those agencies. Recently the cyberattack on JBS, which process 25 percent the nation's beef and 20 percent of its pork, has increased the spotlight on the strength of systems controls in place to prevent a disruption to the U.S. supply chain that feeds both restaurants and direct consumers.

Regardless if these are programmable logic controllers or supervisory control and data acquisition based systems running milking parlor controls, automated temperature control systems in grain operations, or simply the billing or shipping systems, these need to be considered as part of your operational risk as these can have the same effect on your farm operation as drought, flood, or other natural disasters. 

Some of the largest hurdles posed to farmers within cybersecurity of their operations are a lack of awareness, resources, expertise in IT, and connections to outside experts who could help. None of these are insurmountable and there are some solid practical ways that can be used as a starting point to work on improving cybersecurity regardless of what your operation entails.  

Reviewing cybersecurity risk can seem like an impossible task but the knowledge gained can be a solid tool to help future proof your ag business for upcoming generations as technology continues to transform farming operations. 

Randy Yeast is the Chief Technology Cfficer at Security Financial Bank. Randy is professional member and is certified by ISC2 and ISACA as an Information Systems Security Professional, Information Security Manager, Information Systems Auditor, and is also an FBI InfraGard program partner and a cyber liaison officer for the state of Wisconsin.  For more information on cybersecurity, Randy can be reached at 715-568-6310 or