Creating Secure Digitalization in Agriculture

In the digital world we live in today, we are constantly living under the pressure from the risks of cyberattacks. We are daily given news about cyberattacks against our industries and our technology. The threat against our agriculture is no different. In fact agriculture is considered as extra vital from a national security point of view. Therefore Linköping University and Linköping Science Park together are launching a new initiative within secure digitalization in agriculture. 

Agtech 2030 is an initiative which focuses on tomorrow’s agriculture with focus on AI, IoT and sensors. The initiative’s purpose is to make Sweden world leading in specific agriculture tech areas. We have met with the management team led by Per Frankelius, Associate professor (docent) at Linköping University. They shared some insights about digitalization in agriculture and its importance, but also the risks that come along with it.

“Both the crop production and the animal husbandry in agriculture have had a massive transformation these past 20 years. It’s been happening through areas like analysis of fields and crops, tractors and other machines, animals, systems in both silo and in decision-making systems” – Fredrik Gustavsson, Professor in sensor informatics

But what challenges and security risks are there for the new technology that digitalization has brought?

“There is already an amount of security issues in the industry, for example one issue has been thefts in both equipment and information. There is a possibility of more digital technology making an entrance in the industry in the near future, that makes the security issue even more important but also a challenge.” – Matilda von Rosen, Coordinator at Agtech 2030, Linköping University.

Per Frankelius stated that the utmost purpose of this new collaboration with Linköping Science Park and Agtech 2030 is to make the digitalization in agriculture as safe and robust as possible.

Aims and Goals

Sofia Lundqvist, project manager at Linköping Science Park, has been responsible for another cyber safety project which took place in 2020. The aim of that initiative was to raise awareness on cyber security within management at SME’s. 19 companies participated in an educational program. A study on the subject was also presented. After the project ended Sofia was introduced to Agtech 2030, to apply the learnings from the previous project within agricultural businesses. 

“Something we have learned from the 2020 project is that the bigger picture is significant. Therefore, in this investment we have chosen to include the whole value chain, from suppliers to customers in the education program.” – Sofia Lundqvist, Project Manager at Linköping Science Park.

Sofia also states that to create a safe digital environment, it is crucial that everyone is aware and included. 

“A heavy challenge for this industry is that every machine has smart functions which leads to a lot of data being collected. The owners of the machines might now know to what degree and how the data can be used. So if a machine is stolen, the owner does not know what it is that has been lost.” – Sofia Lundqvist.

The initiative brings awareness to the ongoing problem, but what is the concrete goal and what is the first step?

“One goal with the project is to develop a competence-development program for the industry. We are going to discuss the exact shape of it during spring and summer, however as a base for this program we are planning on doing a study of the digital technology in agriculture and its security aspects.“ – Sofia Lundqvist.

Sofia continues by telling us that the study will research on how mature the target group is in regards to digitalization. 

The study will be made by Estelle Lohm and Niklas Andersson at Unitalent and will be similar to the one made last fall. This study will however have a solitary focus on the players in agriculture. Both Estelle and Niklas are stating that an important task is to listen to idéas and experiences from experts in the industry. 

Viktoria Strömgren, 27 april 2021