Agritech businesses in race to protect farmers from cyber threats, says Inmarsat

New research finds that almost half of agritech businesses agree that their processes to combat IoT-related cyber threats need improvement

14 December 2017: The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to revolutionise the farming and agricultural sector, but many agritech companies are concerned by the cyber threats associated with the technology. This is according to independent research commissioned by Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), which found that although the vast majority of agritech companies are moving towards IoT, less than a quarter (23 per cent) are completely confident in their ability to counter the security threats that IoT will bring.

Market research specialist Vanson Bourne interviewed respondents from 100 large agritech companies across the globe for its ‘The Future of IoT in Enterprise – 2017’ report. They found that while the majority of respondents had taken steps to address IoT security, with more than half (52 per cent) investing in new security technologies to accommodate IoT, 45 per cent agreed that their processes to counter cyber attacks could be stronger. Moreover, 23 per cent stated that they would need to make heavy investments in their security capabilities to enable their customers to safely exploit IoT.

Networks and skills emerged as two key areas in need of improvement. Just 42 per cent of agritech companies had given special consideration to network security in the development of their IoT solutions, while over half (55 per cent) reported that they needed additional security skills.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Harry-Thomas, Director of Sector Development Agriculture, Inmarsat Enterprise, said: “Agritechs are already proving a boon for farmers, deploying technologies like IoT to help them speed up the journey that food takes from ‘seed to bin’ and from ‘farm to fork’. IoT technologies are being leveraged to automate irrigation and fertilisation systems on farms, to add new precision to operations and reduce waste, and to automate farming machinery, reducing the need for manual intervention. However, a more technology-dependent and connected farm is a more vulnerable one, without the necessary security protocols.

“These threats are not trivial. Whereas an industrial-scale cyber attack in any industry can do significant harm to a business’s bottom line, such an attack in the agricultural sector could see whole crops decimated and have severe consequences for the quality of life of entire populations. It’s therefore critical that agritech businesses can take the necessary measures to counter these risks, and it’s clear from our research that there is a significant amount of room for improvement in this area,” he concluded.

For agritech companies to develop successful IoT solutions to help their customers thrive in the digital transformation, IoT network security must remain one of their top priorities. Satellite communications networks can play an important role as they are optimised to deal with mission critical communications, connecting things wherever they are on the planet. Agritech companies must also look to establish strategic partnerships with third parties who have the expertise to ensure that connectivity in individual devices, and the fundamental network infrastructure, conforms to the highest security and reliability standards.

To view the research microsite and download the full report – ‘The Future of IoT in Enterprise – 2017’ – visit: http://research.inmarsat.com/


For further information

Edward Dodge/Fergus Lynch
Spreckley
+44 (0)20 7388 9988
inmarsat@spreckley.co.uk
Jonathan Sinnatt
Director of Corporate Communications
+44 (0)20 7728 1935
jonathan.sinnatt@inmarsat.com
James Grisbrook
Communications Manager
+44 (0)7872 158548
inmarsat@spreckley.co.uk

About Inmarsat

Inmarsat plc is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services. Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. Inmarsat operates around the world, with a presence in the major ports and centres of commerce on every continent. Inmarsat is listed on the London Stock Exchange (ISAT.L).

About Inmarsat Enterprise

Inmarsat Enterprise is enabling the connected world. Focusing on the provision of satellite connectivity and IoT solutions for land-based businesses, Inmarsat Enterprise operates globally across a diverse set of sectors including agritech, aid and NGO, energy, media, mining and transport. Inmarsat has a proven track-record of working with some of the most innovative energy and utility companies globally. Our connectivity and IoT solutions enable applications such as well-head monitoring, artificial lift monitoring and control, smart grid monitoring, asset and employee tracking, and communications, delivering operational efficiencies and the safeguarding of people and assets.