Cyber crimes: Coming to a farm near you?

High-tech criminals have the capability to lift your valuable farm data and sell it to the highest bidder - or worse, hold it for ransom or destroy it forever. Welcome to the 21st Century.

The FBI and USDA recently released a notification warning that so-called "smart farming" could increase cyber targeting against the U.S. food and agriculture sector.

"Criminals could aggregate stolen data or steal analyzed data to exploit U.S. agriculture resources and market trends," according to the report.

The FBI encourages farmers to ask their precision ag and data management providers how they are using and protecting their on-farm data. The FBI additionally recommends the following precautionary measures to minimize potential threats:

  • Monitor employee logins that occur after normal business hours.
  • Use two-factor authentication for employee logins - especially remote logins.
  • Create a central IT email account where employees can report suspicious emails.
  • Train employees on a regular basis to stay informed of current social engineering threats.
  • Monitor any unusual traffic, especially over nonstandard ports.
  • Monitor outgoing data and block unknown IP addresses.
  • Close any unused ports.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when logging on remotely.

For additional cybersecurity information and resources, visit