Muhammad Khan

Participant: PROMISE AGEP Research Symposium

Muhammad Khan-Photo

Muhammad H. Khan

Department: Food Science and Technology

Institution: University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES)



Cybersecurity Approaches in Precision Agriculture and Food Industry – Assessing Challenges.

Background: The growth in the sectors of agriculture and food production in US and globally is mostly attributed to the innovative technology which includes a set of technologies that combine sensors, information systems, enhanced machinery, and management systems to optimize production. Previous studies indicate that most of these technologies were not usually designed with cyber secure functionalities. In addition, these technologies are usually less capable to handle or alert users when compromised situations such as hacking occur. The extreme vulnerability of the Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and the Smart Farming Technology (SFT) platforms is critical particularly in terms of data collection through wireless sensor technology (WST).


Goals: The goal of this study is to assess the emerging vulnerability/challenges (reliability, security and performance.) of the big data collected through WST in food production particularly in smart farming.


Methods: A literature review was conducted on technologies widely used in smart farming, food processing and packaging industries. Challenges related to ICS and SFT data were assessed.


Results: The findings of the literature review indicate the following vulnerabilities:

  • Lack of protection of ICS
  • Lack of cyber risk awareness among industry operators, farmers and vendors.
  • Lack of secured network system


Conclusion: The findings might be an ideal situation for hackers to have access to the ICS through the WST and corrupt data or disrupt operations of the food industries. There is a need to protect the ICS and sensitive data from hackers and prevent cybercrimes in US agriculture sectors and food industry.



PhD Research Study Focus

Cyber Security for Agriculture and Food Industry. Researching on Big Data collection through Wireless Sensor Technology (WST) in Smart Farming and in Food Industry Control System.


Professional Experience

IT Research Assistant for the UMES 1890 Nutrition and Health Program 2016- Present:

  • Developed the 1890 UMES Nutrition and Health Program Website: that includes Center for Obesity Prevention, Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program, Family & Consumer Sciences.
  • Developed the Small Ruminants Production Management Program website was also developed:


Graduate Research Assistant for the UMES 1890 Nutrition and Health Program 2014-2016;

  • Developed interactive videos for 1890 Health and Nutrition Programs that has extensive role in research and development.


Shirley Grace Pregnancy Center 2016



Recipient of the:

  • Appreciation Award for Best Revenue, 2008
  • 8 separate merit-based scholarships totaling $22,374 TMCF Leadership Institute Conference – NY & DC 2011-2012-2013-2015
  • International Hotel Show – New York 2009-2010-2011
  • International Hospitality & Tourism Management Honor Society
  • NEWH – The Hospitality Industry Network Award 2013



My graduate research study will focus on Cybersecurity in Food & Agriculture. Digital technology keep changing and the introduction of new security technology is always critical. Hackers always use new methods to enter into the secured servers. The most ideal methods for hackers to attack the food industry is to hack the major supply chains and disrupt the transportation system and that could leave certain areas without food. Also hackers can infiltrate programmable logic controllers that control the process of food irradiation. Hackers could manipulate the amount of chemicals in the food that cause potential damages to the organization as well as consumers too that leads to widespread illness and death. Previous studies also indicate that food industry operators do not believe being a target for hackers.

My research focuses on the fundamentals of developing, engineering and operating secure information systems in food supply chains. Develop a security policy and how policy drives technology decisions in the challenges and problems of secure operating systems, secure applications, secure networking, use of cryptography and key management. We will also develop an education component in order to increase the awareness of the food industry operators

When completed the finding of this project might provide some solutions to the cybersecurity issues in agriculture and food industry. This project makes me a very strong competitive PhD candidate in Food Science Technology.




  • Identifying Best Practices for Interactive Webinars, accepted for publication March 2015 Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences.
  • Selecting AppropriateInteractive Webinar Software accepted for publication March 2015 Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences


Poster Presentations

  • 2014 IMPACTS – 1890 UMES Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program – (EFNEP)
  • Three-year-old head Start Preschooler Jump Start- Agricultural Skills


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