UK cybersecurity agency issues online safety advice for farmers

A Combine Harvester works in a field near Little Milton in Oxfordshire.
A Combine Harvester works in a field near Little Milton in Oxfordshire.

The UK’s cybersecurity agency has issued its first online safety guidance for the farming sector as technology becomes increasingly important to agriculture.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has worked with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) to create the tailor-made guidance, which includes advice on protecting farms against malware and dealing with scam messages and phone calls.

The NCSC said a rise in the use of technology such as GPS, remote sensors and farm management software meant the sector needed to take more action around security as statistics show an increase in reports of cyber attacks against the farming community.

The new guidance, which has been made available in full on the NCSC website, encourages farmers to keep their devices up to date and back up data, and gives guidance on where to go for help.

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.”

The tips form part of the NCSC’s wider Cyber Aware campaign, which pledges to improve cybersecurity and resilience across every part of the UK.

Stuart Roberts, deputy president at the NFU, said the new guidance would be important in helping farmers better protect their businesses.

“Rural crime is a huge issue for farm businesses and we rightly look to protect our farm buildings, machinery and our livestock,” he said.

“However, we all live and work in a digital world and we must be conscious of the threats this can bring to our businesses.

“It’s incredibly important that farmers take this seriously, which is why we’ve teamed up with the experts in the National Cyber Security Centre to help produce this guidance.

“I would urge all farmers to read this advice and take the necessary steps to reinforce their cybersecurity and protect their farm business.”

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