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Blog August 2021 Updated July 2023

Cybersecurity in Livestock Transportation

As the agri-food industry adopts new technologies and becomes more data oriented, their risk of severe cyberattacks increase. The European agricultural standards fail to address cybersecurity risks in general and instead focus on food and nutrition security. But threat scenarios are jarring, ranging from social unrest due to food not moving, to the suffering of livestock. Bad actors look for any weakness in supply chains. That’s bad for livestock transportation, as awareness of cyber security is low among farms¹, who risk losing confidential data that put them at a competitive disadvantage. Farms aren’t the only potential target. In the U.S. and Canada, the largest meat processor in the world suffered a ransomware attack that forced them to shut down operations across multiple sites for health and safety reasons, with the impact hitting livestock haulers particularly hard.

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Jan Tønder

Jan Tønder

Intelligent Optimization Solution Advisor

Digitalisation: How criminals get in.

The agri-food sector as a whole has been woefully slow to build its cyber defences, which makes the industry an attractive target. For the criminals, the potential money haul is much larger if they can bring down a supply chain.

Most larger companies rely on legacy systems that were installed decades ago. Now those systems are connecting to each and with IT systems to create a new architecture. This is the Internet of Things (IoT), and it creates the vulnerabilities that hackers exploit.

This is the irony. Livestock transportation companies need digitalisation in order to work efficiently.

The efficiencies that derive from digitalisation lower operating costs, minimise revenue leakage, expand margins and raise customer service levels.

Yet it’s digitalisation that creates more opportunities for surface attacks by bad actors. This can be done by hacking sensors that monitor temperature, humidity and other environmental issues in livestock trailers during transportation. Smart tablets and phones carried by drivers connected to your office, or the office systems themselves can be vulnerable.

How safe is edge computing?

Whatever you do, don’t halt your progress towards digitalisation.

What you need is the ability to detect threats so that you can take action. Some companies operate using edge computing, which is not a technology, but an architecture. Using edge computing can free up bandwidth to improve response times. Companies who operate on the edge also do so under the belief that they’re controlling their environment by keeping data on site.

And this is certainly a good option if you have full-time, dedicated staff to monitor your cybersecurity. Anything else won’t get the job done. All data, no matter where it’s held, either on the edge or the cloud, can be hacked without proper measures in place. Your staff will have to back up data on a regular basis. They’ll also need to stay on top of constantly changing data regulations to ensure that you’re compliant. Every day, more than 1,000 regulatory bodies worldwide release an average of 217 updates per day. Failure to update will result in fines.

But edge computing has several advantages when it comes to security. It eliminates the risks inherent in data transfers, which are typically encrypted. It also entails sending some, versus all, data to the cloud, nor does edge computing always mean a network connection is necessary. So in other words, if bad actors gain access to your cloud, only some of your data is at risk.

The cloud vs edge computing.

Edge computing does come with disadvantages, however. Infrastructure costs are much higher vs. the cloud, but for this piece, we’re only concerned with security.

While you reduce the amount of data that needs protection in data centres, edge computing creates security concerns for each localised point on your network. Not every edge device has the same built-in authentication and security capabilities, which makes you vulnerable to data breaches. Security controls must be considered for each individual device.

The cloud is rather different.

With an enterprise-grade platform that runs on the cloud, your cloud provider handles all compliance issues and authentication rules. You have to do it yourself if you choose edge computing. A cloud-based system also backs up your data automatically. Again, that’s something you have to do yourself with edge computing.

But not all clouds are created equal. If that’s the route you choose, you’ll need software as a service (SaaS) with a secure substructure. Microsoft Azure, the cloud built with multi-layered security, is backed by 3,500 global cybersecurity experts protecting your business assets and data. This is a cloud designed with customised hardware, with security controls integrated into the hardware and firmware.

Real-time, global cybersecurity intelligence.

To identify threats quickly, you need to know what you’re up against. Microsoft Azure delivers this intelligence at cloud scale. Using machine learning, behavioural analytics and application-based intelligence, analysts can detect security breaches in billions of web pages and emails, just to name a few sources. The insights they gain are then used to help you detect threats.

Microsoft also invests $1 billion each year on security across their global data centres. They put together teams of in-house hackers to find vulnerabilities and launch attacks. Meanwhile, another in-house team analyses and responds to these attacks. This is how Microsoft is able to stay ahead of cybercriminals, and why platforms built on Microsoft Azure carry so much reassurance that business continuity will not be disrupted.

Protect your data.

AMCS Livestock Planner is an SaaS technology underpinned by Microsoft Azure. You should also know that AMCS is SOC 1 and SOC 2 compliant.

But we think there are also other reasons to use AMCS’s SaaS technologies. Users report saving up to 25% in planning time and 5% in annual operating costs. Customer service levels rose with a 20% increase in delivery quality and reliability while lowering their CO₂ emissions.

To learn more about the security AMCS Livestock Planner and other technologies provide, we urge you to get in touch today.

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