In light of current world events it is important for individuals and businesses to bolster their online defences. The National Cyber Security Centre – which is a part of GCHQ – has urged everyone to follow its guidance on steps to take when the cyber threat is heightened. Some simple steps will reduce the risk of falling victim to an attack.
Cyber security can often appear to be a complex daunting subject, but prevention plays an important role in tackling the crime.
Preventing and reporting
The guide Cyber security for farmers: Practical tips on how to stay safe, which was launched by former NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts in December 2020, has been produced by the NFU with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to support farmers in preventing and reporting cybercrime.
The NFU is urging members to read the guide and be vigilant of fraud and cyber attacks, particularly during the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment window. This is a particularly vulnerable time of the year where farmers should be careful of any suspicious calls, texts or emails.
Living and working in a digital world
"In present circumstances it is incredibly important that farmers take cyber security seriously," said NFU Vice President David Exwood. "Rural crime is a huge issue for farm businesses and we rightly look to protect our farm buildings, machinery and our livestock.
"However, we all live and work in a digital world and we must be conscious of the threats this can bring to our businesses.
"Farms now rely more and more on data and technology, and a cyber attack can impact farm operations as well as causing financial losses. I urge all farmers to read this advice and take the necessary steps to reinforce their cyber security and protect their farm business."
Cyber attacks on the rise
Cyber attacks are on the rise, they can be financially devastating, disrupting and upsetting to individuals and businesses. Cyber criminals aim to exploit human or security vulnerabilities in order to steal passwords, data or money directly, and the agricultural sector is no exception.
Almost half (46%) of businesses identified cyber security breaches or attacks in the past 12 months. This criminal trend is an ongoing threat to businesses of all natures and sizes, it is not just the larger organisations who need to invest in cyber security.
Ways to report crime:
- Report suspicious emails to NCSC’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service, SERS, at cmVwb3J0QHBoaXNoaW5nLmdvdi51aw==
- Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726 – it’s free of charge
- Report fraud to Action fraud: using their fraud reporting tool at www.actionfraud.police.uk, or by calling 0300 123 2040.
- Or report anonymously to Crimestoppers or call 0800 555 111