Cyber Security in Digital Agriculture: Investigating Farmer Perceptions, Preferences, & Expert Knowledge

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Russell, Conchobhair (Conor)

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University of Guelph

Abstract

As the agri-food sector digitizes, the potential for greater efficiency and sustainability in farming practices is tempered by novel challenges. Cyber-attack is an increasing global concern in every digitized sector and the agri-food sector is generally unprepared to face these security issues. Limited research exists into how growers perceive cyber security risks on their farms. Over the fall of 2021, 29 growers in Ontario, Canada were interviewed regarding their cyber security perceptions, preferred educational formats, and possible support initiatives. These themes were further explored through in-depth interviews with 5 experts in cyber security, psychology, agriculture, and policy. Key research findings include knowledge that farmers’ risk perceptions are varied but increasing, and that farmers identified a plethora of support initiatives that industry, government, and community stakeholders are called to participate in. These contributions provide vital foundations for further research, support developments, and private and public policy.

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Keywords

cyber security, digital agriculture, precision agriculture, digitization, agriculture, ontario, expert, farmer

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