USDA's Role in Agricultural Cybersecurity

USDA's Role in Agricultural Cybersecurity

Tim Hammerich
Tim Hammerich
News Reporter
With California Ag Today, I’m Tim Hammerich.

While drought, wildfires, and the pandemic have dominated headlines this past year, there is another threat to our food system that also needs attention. I’m referring to cybersecurity. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressed the USDA’s role in improving the cybersecurity of our agricultural supply chain in a recent news conference.

Vilsack… “Well, I think there is a role and the role is a convening role. Convene the food companies and food systems to make sure that they understand the steps that they need to take to harden their systems. We have a cybersecurity and intelligence agency that has put together a series of recommendations that if we follow them, our systems will be significantly hardened to the kind of hacking that we've seen.”

Vilsack says the cyber criminals are not only after data, but supply chain disruption.

Vilsack… “You know, the reality is it's changed. It used to be that people tried to steal data. Now, what they're trying to do is disrupt processes and procedures. So in order for us to do that, we really have to create a much more secure system. There are steps that can be taken. We want to encourage the food companies to understand the steps that they need to take so that they are in a position not to have to deal with what JBS had to deal with.”

These issues were brought to light by the recent hack of major meat processor JBS.

Vilsack… “I think there's also a role for USDA to walk the walk in terms of our own systems and making sure that we are hardening our systems so that we don't create difficulty with the kind of market information, for example, that we provide is incredibly important to a stable and secure market.”

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