Protect your farm from cyber threats

When you’re busy with the daily challenges of running a farm, the risks posed by criminals getting access to your accounts, data, or digital devices, may not be at the forefront of your mind.  
But technology is a bigger part of farmers’ lives than you may realise. From internet banking and emails to GPS and electronic tags, you probably use some form of technology every single day – which unfortunately makes your business a potential target for cybercrime. 

The cyber threat

Similar to various other industries, the agricultural sector is not immune to cyber criminals who exploit system vulnerabilities to illicitly acquire passwords, data, or financial assets. Farming is just as susceptible to these threats as any other sector. 
Any agricultural business that relies on any information technology or that stores, or processes private or confidential information can be impacted by a cyber incident. 
According to the UK Government Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2023, 32% of small businesses (including non-farming businesses) identified a cyber breach or attack within the last 12 months. This can have a significant impact on revenue – it’s estimated to cost affected businesses an average of approximately £15,300. It can also lead to reputational damage, and legal liabilities.  
Therefore, it’s vital that farmers consider the IT equipment and devices used on farms to identify any risks. This ranges from the computer, laptop or smartphone you use to send emails and run your farm management software to automated machinery and security cameras.  
There are other digital aspects of your business that are vulnerable too. These include online accounts that you use for banking or social media. Or the likes of the Rural Payments service and cloud document storage such as Office365 or Google Docs, to name but a few. 
If, like many farmers, you decide to diversify your business into a new venture, then that can also bring new risks to be aware of. Ventures in sectors such as hospitality, retail or property management, for example, all face their own unique cyber risks. To grow your new venture, you might launch a website, adopt an online booking system or new payment systems for customers. Or maybe you will start up guest or public Wi-Fi, or seek to install EV charging systems. Any new uses of technology require consideration into how to minimise the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches.  

How to keep your farm safe from cyber-attacks

All farmers that use digital technology should consider their cyber risks and look to bolster their online defences.  
Put simply, cyber security is how you protect your computers, mobile devices, electronic systems and data from attacks. 
But, even with the best planning, unexpected events can still threaten your business. So, you may wish to consider taking out cyber insurance, which can form part of your business continuity plans and help by covering any costs you may incur following an attack, such as restoring data and notifying customers, and from third party liability. The benefits of cyber insurance don’t stop there; read our top ten reasons to consider cyber insurance.