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Cyber security guidance for agricultural sector issued by NCSC and NFU

24 December 2020

FOR THE first time, farmers will have access to tailor-made cyber security advice published by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) in response to the growing use of technology in the agriculture sector.

The all-new ‘Cyber Security for Farmers’ guidance document is designed to provide the farming community with the tools and information it needs to protect itself from the most common cyber attacks, among them scam e-mails and malicious software.

Businesses in the agricultural sector are increasingly taking advantage of the benefits modern farming technology can provide, such as GPS, remote sensors and farm management software. However, with official statistics showing a rise in reports of cyber attacks against the farming community, and in the wake of well-documented incidents such as spoof farm machinery adverts leaving farmers thousands of pounds out of pocket, the NCSC and NFU are urging the sector to act on the new guidance.

Sarah Lyons, the NCSC’s deputy director for the economy and society, 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 with the sector as an increased use of technology also sees an increased risk of the farming community 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 at the same time embracing the latest technology.”

The advice, which can be found in full on the NCSC’s website, includes guidance on protecting farms against malware, keeping devices up-to-date, where to go for help, backing up data and dealing with scam e-mails, text messages and phone calls in a secure way.

Stuart Roberts, deputy president at the NFU, explained: “Rural crime is a huge issue for farm businesses and we rightly look to protect our farm buildings, machinery and our livestock. We all live and work in a digital world and we must be conscious of the threats this can bring to our businesses.”

Roberts continued: “It’s incredibly important that farmers take this issue seriously, which is why we’ve teamed up with the experts at the National Cyber Security Centre to help produce this guidance. I would urge all farmers to read this advice and take the necessary steps towards reinforcing their cyber security and protecting their farm business.”

The NCSC is committed to raising cyber security and resilience across every part of the UK. This includes supporting businesses, academia and the charity sector, as well as the public, through the Cyber Aware campaign.

The NCSC has published tailored advice and guidance to support a variety of sectors including the sports industry and small businesses.