That’s a question the new AgriFutures Australia report by BDO explores, commissioned to identify rural industries’ cyber security vulnerabilities and to provide information on appropriate responses for producers, industry and agribusinesses of all sizes.
All businesses will, at some point, experience some form of cyber attack, whether it’s a simple email attempting to launch a virus or a sophisticated malware attack attempting to steal information to disrupt business operations.
The BDO report, Cyber security threats – are we prepared? found that agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries need to proactively manage their cyber security. For many producers, simple solutions such as automatic software updates, antivirus software and multi-factor authentication are all that is needed. Sophisticated, digitally-enabled businesses, such as intensive farm operations and automated farming systems, may need more complex security in place.
Rural industries now rely on technology and innovation systems at unprecedented levels, and today almost every producer will use some form of technology, such as a mobile phone or laptop, to do business. In the last decade agtech investment has surged, with over US$6.7 billion invested in the last five years alone, including over US$1.9 billion in the last 18 months.
John Borchi, Partner, Cyber Security at BDO Australia, said rural businesses are now in a similar position to where the health system was five years ago, where the digitisation of patient records resulted in them becoming a prime target for cyber criminals.
“The health sector saw the risk that came with digitisation of records and moved to rapidly improve and standardise cyber security risks. This included allocating sufficient funds and focusing on the fundamentals of cyber security, whilst outsourcing functions that could not be performed in-house,” said Mr Borchi.
“Australia’s rural industries are at the beginning of the cyber security journey. In recent years there has been a rapid uptake of technology, and with this, an increased risk of digital attacks. Now is the time for industries to act.”