Agricultural Cyber Crime

Cyber-crime has been a growing phenomenon over the last decade as the use of technology has risen across all sectors in the UK. It’s easy to believe that criminals will only ever approach those large corporations with millions of pounds worth of data and technology, but that simply is not the case. In late January 20, a report was published by the BBC highlighting in the last six months there had been over 13,000 people in the UK affected as a result of cyber-crime and unfortunately, agriculture is not an exception.

Why Agriculture?

Over the last few years the agricultural industry has drastically changed – The use of digital technology has become a standard practice on farms and in agricultural businesses. Whilst income flows may be irregular there will be periods where farmers have large sums of money in their bank accounts as a result of Basic Payment Schemes and the likes. This is the perfect time for fraudsters to strike!

Cyber Crime in Action

Fraudsters have been seen to be utilising email to impersonate someone the farmer may know and ask for urgent payment details or a change of account details. Alternatively, phishing calls, texts and emails are also known to have been used for the download of dangerous malware or personal identity information. These criminals really do know how to make their communications seem legitimate, so you must beware and keep your eyes peeled.

What to look out for:

  1. Communication via email or text asking for sensitive information.
  2. Illegitimate email addresses
  3. Impersonalised messages
  4. Spelling mistakes
  5. Odd website links
  6. Unsolicited attachments

Fighting Cyber Criminals

With the use of data, there will always be some degree of associated risk, but that does not mean that cyber-crime should deter you from using data to help improve the profitability of your business – There are however some important steps which you can take to ensure you maximise the security of your data.

Ensure that all the software you use is up to date – security malware is always changing, so keeping your software up to date will ensure that you have the highest level of protection.

Use strong passwords which differ between one login to the next – It’s very easy to just use a standard login which is easily guessed to ensure you don’t forget it, but don’t! This is one of the most fatal errors, and something which can be avoided easily!

Educate your employees – Unfortunately, employees are one of the main threats to data security. Often, through error rather than malicious action. If you can educate your staff around the vital signs for phishing communications, then you will decrease the chances of getting attacked.

And lastly, make sure you have security software such as anti-virus or two-factor authentication on any computers which hold data. This software is often free and will reduce the risk of attack through security walls put in place.

Don’t be afraid

It’s so easy to be worried about cyber-crime affecting you and your business but don’t. If you put the precautions in place to reduce the risk, then you are doing everything you can.

Do not let cyber-crime deter you from the endless possibilities involved in using data for you and your business.

Cyber-crime has been a growing phenomenon over the last decade as the use of technology has risen across all sectors in the UK. ”

Lesley Garrett

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