Farmers and those working in the agricultural business are being urged to improve their online security following a rise over the last few years in attacks from cyber criminals.
In 2019, more than 60% of agricultural businesses reported one or more attacks, compared with 45% in 2018, according to one cyber security company.
During the pandemic, online criminals are especially active since they know that many people will be using the internet more than normal. This could mean they are less familiar with the precautions to take when shopping online, using email, or storing data.
By taking a few simple steps to protect yourself, you can prevent your business from losing time and money in an attack.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has partnered with the Nation Farmers’ Union (NFU) in making guidance available to keep farms safer from fraudsters.
As well as sharing tips suitable for beginner internet users, they have given guidance on all aspects of farming that involves computers. This applies to farmers who run automated machinery, security cameras and use smartphones in their work.
The NCSC’s tips for improved cyber security are as follows:
· Ensure computers and mobile phones are set to install automatic updates.
· Replace old hardware, which may be more vulnerable to attack.
· Back up your data – perhaps on an external hard drive or USB stick or a cloud-based option
· Switch on password protection and use fingerprint or face ID on mobile devices.
· Use things like tracking modes and remote data erasing modes on mobile devices.
· Download anti-virus products to protect from “malware” (malicious software)
· Activate firewalls to create a buffer between your network and the internet.
Sarah Lyons, NCSC deputy director for economy and safety, said: “Technology plays a huge role in modern farming and offers many benefits that will help the industry to thrive in the 21st century.
“We are teaming up with the NFU to share best online practice to the sector, as an increased use of technology also sees an increased risk of being targeted by cyber criminals.
“Staying safe online might seem daunting, but the actionable advice in Cyber Security for Farmers will help the sector to stay as safe as possible while embracing the latest technology.”
You can find the guidance for farmers on the NCSC’s website: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/cyber-security-for-farmers as well as useful links to follow if you think you may have been a victim of fraud. There is also a free PDF to download which expands on the tips above.
If you’re based in Leeds City Region, we can offer you FREE support with acting on the NCSC’s guidance. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.