Farmers Facing Increased Cyber Risks as IoT Device use surges

Cybersecurity and farming aren’t things that most people think of as being connected, but in the age of increased reliance on technology the two now go hand in hand.

We’ve said many times that the cyber risks are ever evolving and are set to increase massively over the coming years as more and more businesses adopt new technology. Farming is no exception.

With farmers adopting new farming techniques that require the use of internet connected machinery and equipment their exposure to risk is growing.

The BBC’s Countryfile covered the topic of the rising risks of cybercrime to farmers (you can watch it here) and highlighted just how important the use of technology is going to become.

The agriculture sector contributes £14 billion to the UK economy making it an appealing target for criminals. As stated on the programme there is only a limited amount of land available for farming which requires farmers to adopt new high-tech strategies to get more production out of the limited space.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has boomed in popularity amongst farmers due to their ability to reduce the time extensive aspects of the industry. IoT devices allow the monitoring and measuring of water levels, changes in weather patterns and the health of soils as well as automating farm machinery which in turn reduces costs and frees up time.

As with any sector that is adopting new technologies the threat of cybercrime mounts. Some of the most common forms of attack include Phishing and Spear Phishing campaigns as well as Ransomware and Malware attacks.

One of the most common attacks mentioned on the Countryfile programme saw one farmer being targeted multiple times by scammers. In the example given a scammer impersonated the farmer and told his customers to send their payments to a new bank account. Only the quick thinking of one of his customers who checked to see if the email was legitimate prevented him from losing £40,000.

Cybercriminals are opportunists who no doubt see the farming industry as an easy target. Typically, their victims aren’t very cyber-savvy and are less likely to implement or pay for effective cybersecurity.

In another example of the sector being a favoured target for fraudsters a farm doesn’t even need to have a presence online to be a victim. Criminals are also taking advantage of those businesses that have yet to get online. They register a website in the company name encouraging potential customers to send them money in exchange for non-existent goods.

To avoid being caught the scammers keep the websites live only for a brief time before vanishing, resulting in the fraudulently taken money being very hard to track down.

Staying Secure

The advice for reducing the cyber threats to farmers is the same as we would give to any other type of business. If you get the security basics right then you will reduce the risks.

  • Never give out sensitive information online especially banking passwords and security codes to anyone.
  • Ensure you have good quality Anti-Virus software installed on all of your networks and devices and ensure that they are kept up to date with the latest patches.
  • Carry out software and operating system updates as soon as they become available.
  • Never click on links or attachments from emails that come from an unexpected source and always double check that the sender is legitimate if sent by a well-known contact.
  • Regularly backup your data to reduce the impact of a potential Ransomware attack

With more machinery and devices being connected to the internet hackers can find multiple avenues of attack. To keep on top of this a farmer will be able to regularly scan their devices for vulnerabilities by using CyberScore™ for an easily affordable price.

For further reading visit –

https://www.xqcyber.com/cyberscore/show/spending-a-little-on-cybersecurity-now-could-save-you-a-lot-in-the-future

https://www.xqcyber.com/cyberscore/show/locking-your-computer-should-be-as-natural-as-locking-your-front-door

Want to learn more about how CyberScore™ can help secure your business? Visit our website at www.xqcyber.com/cyberscore and if you want to give yourself the very best protection against cyber security threats try out CyberScore™ for free now!

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