Adoption of technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) across the agriculture sector is helping tackle various challenges – including labour shortages and climate change – but this digitalisation also puts the sector at risk of cyberattacks, says GlobalData.

The research group’s latest thematic intelligence report – Cybersecurity in Agriculture – reveals how food suppliers and distributors are facing a greater number of ransomware attacks causing delays in produce shipments. Large-scale cyberattacks can even pose a threat to entire food supply chains. Against this backdrop, the cybersecurity industry will be worth $290-billion by 2027, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13% between 2022 and 2027, GlobalData says.

“Cybersecurity is a growing concern in the agriculture sector,” says Holly Anness-Bradshaw, associate Thematic Intelligence analys at GlobalData “The industry is increasingly adopting technological solutions to support shrinking workforces and improve productivity. However, these technologies come with security risks that are often overlooked.”

The future of agriculture will be underpinned by technologies that augment the industry’s workforce. Remotely accessible robots will assist existing employees, but new entry points for data breaches and cyberattacks will come with this.

“Traditional agricultural companies like John Deere and Lely are all hiring and innovating in cybersecurity,” Anness-Bradshaw continues. “There is an interesting development in the industry with companies not only making machines like tractors and combines, but also making technology. John Deere tractors now incorporate tablets and AI. Therefore, John Deere is making the important step to protect clients and incorporate security measures into devices.”

Cybersecurity will be crucial across all stages of the agricultural supply chain. The agricultural supply chain is vast and sprawling – from processing and harvesting to distribution.

“Companies should invest in cybersecurity measures across all stages of the agricultural supply chain,” Anness-Bradshaw says. “Such a critical infrastructure cannot afford to go down due to cyberattacks as this could lead to food shortages, increased prices, and spoilage. Trading and distribution involve extensive supply chain networks with vast amounts of data at risk. Agriculture companies should view cybersecurity as a key vulnerability to protect against.”