Precision Planting has been notifying customers and employees that its systems had been hacked by an as-yet-unidentified outside party. Some of the files affected held personal information such as name, address and tax identification number and financial account information, including credit card numbers. Farm data was stored on a separate server and was not affected.
Precision Planting and parent company Monsanto have partnered with a leading forensics firm and are working with authorities to "remediate this issue," according to John Larkin, Precision Planting commercial lead.
"We want to make you aware of the situation and offer assistance in an effort to ensure you are not negatively impacted," Larkin wrote in a letter to customers. The security breach happened in March.
Precision Planting is offering customers a free one-year membership of Experian’s ProtectMyID Alert, which will help customers detect any possible misuse of personal information. If you believe you were affected, you can find full instructions for enrolling here.
Larkin offered up additional resources and contact information for concerned customers:
• The Federal Trade Commission identity theft information website – www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft
• The FTC hotline – 1-877-ID-THEFT
• The Precision Planting hotline – 1-866-926-9801
"You should report any instances of identity theft to the FTC as well as to your local law enforcement agency," Larkin said.
Christy Toedebusch, communications director for The Climate Corporation, said Monsanto is working to increase security safeguards on the impacted server and is reviewing the security on other servers to prevent further incidents.
"While no system can be completely secure, we believe our new security protocols will provide significant protection for customer data," she said.