Cyber support for the food & farming communities

As the season of Harvest Festivals arrives, we are reminding the food & farming communities about the important of cyber security within their sector.


Increasing digitisation can significantly improve agricultural efficiency and sustainability, adapting to population growth, demographic changes, climate change, ecological damage and water scarcity - but with this follows an increase of vulnerabilities and new emerging threats, which could result in significant financial harm to the industry, social unrest and suffering to livestock.


Indeed, the 2018 National Farmers Union (NFU) Mutual Food Fraud report highlighted that the cost of food fraud to the UK food industry could be as much as £12 billion each year.


Recently, US cybersecurity agency CISA has warned that the BlackMatter – the ransomware gang responsible for causing the shutdown of the US Colonial Pipeline - has been targeting American food and agriculture businesses with demands of up to $15m.


In an alert published on CISA’s website, the agency states:

"Ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure entities could directly affect consumer access to critical infrastructure services.”

The key message is that food and farming communities must remain vigilant. As referenced in an NCC Group Publication Cyber Security in UK Agriculture –

  • The safety of new technology needs to be rigorously established, with open and transparent decision-making

  • Risks need to be appropriately weighed against the potential costs of not utilising new technology

  • Governance for new technologies needs to consider how it may alter the relationship between commercial interests and food producers

  • Cyber security risks introduced from increasing digitisation in the food sector must be managed with appropriate governance

  • The security of new technologies needs to be appropriately tested in line with industry best practice


Another great source of advice for farming is the joint work undertaken by the NCSC and NFU, which can be found at https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/cyber-security-for-farmers


The NEBRC is a police-led, not-for-profit organisation set up to support small and medium sized businesses build and improve cyber resilience with access to guidance available through membership programmes. For further information on how we can help you, contact a member of our team today at: enquiries@nebrcentre.co.uk