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Farmers - avoid following the herd when it comes to cyber security

The farming and agriculture industry are currently plagued by 4 major cyber threats; with hackers looking to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and networks. These threats include ransomware, phishing, data manipulation, supply chain disruptions and the theft of confidential information.  All these threats can lead to financial losses for farmers, data breaches, and even threats to food safety.

Herd of cows on green grass
How can a cyber-attack impact my farm?

Food security threats:

Cyber-attacks that are directed at agricultural technology devices can have huge impacts on the security of food production around the globe. Large scale attacks such as these carry the risk for widespread hunger and economic devastation

 

Technology within farming means from the computer where you do your emails and run your farm management software, to the automated machinery, security cameras and smart phones which help you run your farm.

 

To minimise this threat, you should:

  • Keep your farm management software, devices, and systems updated with the latest security patches

  • Like any piece of machinery, computers and mobile phones need regular maintenance and servicing to ensure they work effectively and securely. Most of this essential maintenance can be achieved by ensuring the operating system and installed software on your devices are regularly updated. This process is known as ‘patching.’

  • The easiest way to make sure that your device and your apps are kept up to date is to set updates to be installed automatically. 

 

The financial impact

Cyber-attacks cost businesses thousands every single year. The single most disruptive breach from the last 12 months cost medium and large businesses approximately £10,830. The cost of the attack, the response to the attack and any funds stolen are all aspects of how these attacks can financially impact your farm or agriculture organisation.

 

The impacts mentioned do not factor in any financial setbacks that occur due to operational disruptions, reduced productivity, and potential penalties for non-compliance with data protection regulations.

 

To help you avoid an attack that could result in the loss of financial information or funds themselves, you should download anti-virus products to protect from “malware” (malicious software) and activate firewalls on your devices to create a buffer between your network and the internet.

 

Securing the links in your supply chain

Supply chain cyber security looks at the aspects your supply chain, focusing and identifying the risks associated with your third-party vendors, suppliers, transportation and logistics.

 

In the farming and agriculture industry, attacks on the supply chain may lead to delays in delivering products, product shortages and counterfeit goods being introduced into the market. For customers, the impact of this includes increased consumer prices, reduced food availability and reduced profitability for those servicing the industry.

 

Whilst it may seem a complex task, being proactive and dedicating time/resource to protecting your supply chain will make the process simpler. Remember, protecting your supply chain should be integrated into your overarching risk management and security strategy.  

 

At The South East Cyber Resilience Centre, we offer a free, short program that has been created to help you ensure the security of your supply chain. Find out more at www.secrc.police.uk/supply-chain.

 

Compromised food quality and safety

If a cyber attack impacts your technology or the attack is able to manipulate data related to food quality, contamination testing or traceability the outcome may result in the distribution of unsafe or contaminated food products.

 

This presents a public health risk which could lead to product recalls which may damage the reputation of food producers and suppliers.

 

 

Need further help but don’t know where to start?

We understand that many in the agricultural sector may not have extensive experience with cybersecurity, which is why we are here to support you. The South East Cyber Resilience Centre offers resources, training, and guidance to help you enhance your cybersecurity posture and protect your operations.

 

By working together to improve cybersecurity in the farming and agriculture sector, we can mitigate the risks posed by cyber threats and ensure the continued success and resilience of our industry.

 

If you have any questions or need assistance with cybersecurity, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Let's work together to safeguard our farms, businesses, and livelihoods from cyber threats. Contact us here https://www.secrc.police.uk/contact-us.

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