Cyber Security for Cattle

The appetite for digital technology in the Agriculture space has exploded in recent years. Australia has a growing and thriving Agri-tech industry that is dedicated to providing new and innovative ways of solving problems. This provides producers with enormous amounts of data to aid in decision making. However Cyber Security is a critical area that is so often overlooked by both Producers and Agri-tech vendors alike.

Your average property manager is focused on rainfall, grass, crop growth, and maximising the kilograms produced. They tend not to be focused on ensuring the antivirus on the office PC is up to date, or the WIFI is secure. The attitude tends to be “We’re in the middle of nowhere – If someone tries to hack in we’ll see them coming!”. Very little consideration is given to the value information might have to someone else, or that data theft might not even be the main goal – Ever heard of ransomware?

The livestock production industry in particular has a bit of a target on its back these days. Practices such as live export, dehorning and lot feeding are not well received by some groups. Over the years there have been numerous reports of activists gaining access to facilities either “under-cover” as employees, or via trespass. It doesn’t take a giant leap to think these parties might be interested in causing some digital disruption should the opportunity arise.

Competition both locally as well as from abroad also presents risks. The gross value of Australian agriculture in 2018-19 was $62.208 billion (National Farmers Federation), and remains a very important part of Australia’s economy. Despite the challenges over the last twelve to eighteen months, Australian beef and other meat products still compete well on the international market. The recent attack against JBS should make it clear that the Australian Agriculture industry can and will be targeted, and the results of such an event can be disastrous to a business and the industry in general.

So can we do about it? It’s a well-known fact in the cyber security industry that you cannot 100% guarantee security. No matter how much time, money, effort, and technology you put in place, if the lights are on (and maybe even if they’re not), there is a risk. The question is: how do we decide what is ‘enough’ security?

At Elynx we take a structured, risk-based approach to Cyber Security. We pragmatically identify, analyse, and evaluate risks, and implement the necessary controls to mitigate them within the appetite of Elynx and our customers. We strive to maintain, exceed, and improve our security posture so that when the day comes, we can ensure integrity and confidentiality is maintained.

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