Food and cybersecurity

What We Do

The Food Protection and Defense Institute was the first organization to highlight the Food and Agriculture Sector’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities, particularly to attacks on the industrial control systems (ICSs) that almost all food companies rely on to operate food production facilities. Our research has revealed that food industry ICSs may be particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Many ICSs used in the food industry are quite old, highly customized, and were not designed with security in place or with the ability to be made secure through updating. Yet, more of these legacy systems are being connected to workstations on corporate networks, thus offering an entryway for hackers to other vital systems. Given the vulnerabilities identified in the food industry and the increasing threats to industrial control systems, it is critical that food companies have the tools, techniques, and knowledge to protect themselves. 

How We Work

The Food Protection and Defense Institute collaborates with public and private sector partners to understand the vulnerabilities in the food system infrastructure and the dynamic threats emerging in cybersecurity. Our research through the Strengthening Food Industry Cybersecurity Capacity project engaged the food industry to articulate the challenges to protecting against the growing threat of cyberattacks. The project resulted in frameworks and best practices for implementing cybersecurity in the context of food processing and manufacturing. Further, the Insittute piloted a promising assessment for assisting food companies, especially small- and medium-sized businesses, in strengthening their cybersecurity.

Our Capabilities

The Food Protection and Defense Institute continues to assess the vulnerabilities and threats to the food system. As we did for the Strengthening Food Industry Cybersecurity Capacity project, the Institute can convene leading experts in cybersecurity and food production to assess risks and launch initiatives to address them. In addition, we can develop and field test solutions, provide general threat analysis, and customized assessments.


We have in-house and collaborating experts in cybersecurity and food production ICSs who understand the threats and vulnerabilities and can help develop best practices to protect this critical infrastructure.

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Food Protection and Defense Institute

University of Minnesota
1365 Gortner Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108 

[email protected]