How Cyber Security and Design thinking can be leveraged to enhance food security

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How Cyber Security and Design thinking can be leveraged to enhance food security

agriculture and infosec

How can we apply Business Processes Automation (BPA) and Cyber Security to ensure food security and solve major problems faced by young farmers, new farmers, large scale farmers and small holder farmers in Uasin Gishu County?

(This was the question posed to Bunifu Technologies Ltd. CEO Wilberforce Seguton who was one of the (virtual) speakers on Wednesday in the ongoing #EldoretTechWeek).

The response

First, North Rift region is dubbed the breadbasket of the country therefore it is critical to national survival. For farmers in the region, you guys are in the early stage of agricultural automation and so is the rest of Kenya and many other African countries.

With increased automation, especially use of aspects such as internet of things (IoT), smart farming where one can monitor the progress of the farm work via devices, it brings a host of vulnerabilities. Without preparedness and addressing these vulnerabilities, future food security is not guaranteed.

On design thinking, it is simply how designers think about building a solution – so on how can farmers leverage on design thinking is by thinking about the end user. Design thinking and info-sec coming together could mean users feeling safe when they come to your online store to purchase your agricultural produce, when using smart farming devices and so on.

With Internet of things where many farmers at automating and using remote control systems e.g. refrigeration systems, Irrigation system, proper design thinking needs to be in place to prevent hackers from gaining access.

For the farmer, critical will be their data e.g. for dairy farmers – records about their dairy animals, data is important for predictability.

For tech savvy farmers using emails, they must be aware of social engineering and scamming which involve aspects such as soliciting for money to supply certain farm inputs then no delivery is made. And for tech agriprenuers doing research of formulae to improve yields, protection of Intellectual Property is important.

New threats such as Agro terrorism which intentional contamination of food have come to play due to automation. This will require governments and stakeholders to take cyber security more seriously in regards to food security. These may include the need for protection of our labs since our farmers get seeds from there and so on.

According to Trustwave’s 2013 Global Security Report, 24 percent of all reported data breaches occurred in the food and beverage industry, second only to retail which is massive. Therefore addressing this topic is key.

Some of the Solutions include:

  1. Copyright your work – especially those in agri-tech.
  2. Those with eCommerce platforms ensure you encrypt your online transactions -protect your website store
  3. Exercise caution when opening links sent on emails and beware of emails with unknown attachments
  4. Backup you data – very important
  5. Updating your software and apps

Eldoret is one of the largest urban centres in Kenya. It is the Headquarters of Uasin Gishu, one of the 47 counties in Kenya. Counties are local governments.

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