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Strategic Group and University of Newcastle research cyber security

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CYBER SECURITY: Strategic Group director Aron Robertson, University of Newcastle research fellow Kallol Krishna Karmakar and Strategic Group senior engineer Peter Speirs at the University of Newcastles Advanced Cyber Security Engineering Research Centre.

To the layperson, hacking a moisture probe or weather station hardly seems like it would be worth the effort, however a new research project is examining how the Internet of Things is leaving farms and agribusiness vulnerable to a serious cyber security breach. 

The 12 month project, run by Newcastle based IT company Strategic Group and the University of Newcastle, aims to investigate the secure management of IoT sensors and devices within the agribusiness sector.

Strategic Group director of business development Aron Robertson said the project was funded through the Australian Government and addressed a significant gap in the agribusiness market.

It’s been well-publicized how easy it can be to hack into different IoT devices which leaves these agribusinesses open to having their data stolen or accessed for nefarious purposes- Aron Robertson

“Many of these businesses have amassed a range of IoT devices over time to help monitor and measure all different areas of the land,” he said. 

“This collection of IoT devices are usually from all different brands and manufacturers, with an array of diverse price points”

Mr Robertson said farming businesses and agribusiness used a wide range of digital technologies, including soil moisture probes, sensors and drone technology.

“While all these devices are beneficial and can help improve productivity, they also have the potential to create vulnerabilities in information and cyber security,” he said.

“It’s been well publicized how easy it can be to hack into different IoT devices which leaves these agribusinesses open to having their data stolen or accessed for nefarious purposes.”

Mr Robertson said the project will see the University of Newcastle allow Strategic Group staff to use their Advanced Cyber Security Engineering Research Centre (ACSRC) and associated Cyber Security Labs.

“We are excited to be working with the University of Newcastle and having access to their world class facilities. These labs give our team access to research and development technologies that we would not normally have,” he said.

“Additionally having the ability to work with the ACSRC research staff is really valuable and will assist us in our architecture design and testing of the IoT provisioning system.”

“Once our research term is complete we hope to have a finished product to trial in real world scenarios with our agribusiness based customers. 

“Our aim is to deliver our clients and the wider agriculture industry a safe and secure way to manage a range of different IoT devices and third party software.”

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