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Hacking the food supply?

NCSC issues farm cyber security advice

Digital farms are a target for hackers, as farmers urged to improve farm cyber security

Sooner or later, it was going to happen. Britain’s national security agency has finally issued its first official guidance to farmers, warning that adoption of agritech and smart devices may make them a target for hackers.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the division of the spy agency tasked with helping the public and business communities stay safe in cyberspace, said that the advice was prompted by a rise in reports of cyber attacks on the farming community.

Criminals were increasingly attacking remote sensors and GPS trackers that farmers used to watch over their flocks and crops, it said.

Hackers were also trying to breach software that farmers used to manage the increasingly sophisticated technology seen on British farms, the agency warned.

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. We are teaming up with the National Farmers’ Union 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.”

The advice, developed with input from the NFU, can be found in full on the NCSC’s website. It includes guidance on

  • protecting farms against malware;
  • keeping ‘internet of things‘ devices up to date;
  • where to go for help;
  • backing up data, and;
  • dealing with scam emails, text messages, and phone calls.
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