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10 steps to protect your farm business from cyber crime

Fraudsters are always ready to strike when their potential victims are at their busiest, or when they know there are increased funds available to steal. Olivia Midgley speaks to Andrew Naylor, UK head of agriculture at Lloyds Bank, for his advice on how to stay safe


Olivia   Midgley

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Olivia   Midgley
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10 tips to protect your farm business from cyber crime #CyberCrime

At this point in the agricultural year, harvest will be delivering funds into bank accounts, shortly followed by the winter Basic Payments.

 

Andrew Naylor, UK head of agriculture at Lloyds Bank, said fraudsters were well aware the autumn period was one of the best times to strike.

 

 

"For some time now, farmers have been heavily targeted by fraudsters using telephone scams, known as vishing, where callers claim to be from their bank," said Mr Naylor.

 

"Vishing scams trick unsuspecting victims into divulging online banking credentials, or coerce them into taking steps which allow the criminal to access their bank account.

 

"If the person calling you in a vishing attack knows details of your business, your suppliers, how much you pay them or what your next delivery of supplies will be, it could be easy to think it is a genuine caller."

 

Vishing victims have suffered up to six-figure losses and despite heightened publicity and awareness, this tactic continues to be used.

 

Reports suggest vishing calls in 2017 are three times more frequent than just a year ago. Raising awareness of the risks in the agricultural sector has never been more important.

 

Mr Naylor added: "Cybercrime also continues to be a threat. Malicious software, known as malware, is used to gain access to computers, much like a Trojan horse.

 

"Emails are sent from what appears to be a legitimate source, including an attachment or link containing the malware. Once these are clicked on or opened, fraudsters can then gain access to confidential information and money."

 

Another type of cyber fraud is ransomware. Fraudsters dupe the recipient into clicking on a link in an email or on a website which delivers a virus to your computer, locking down your data so you cannot access it. The criminals then demand you pay a ‘ransom’ if you want access to be reinstated.

 

One final tactic used by fraudsters is sending written correspondence disguised to look like it has been sent by a genuine supplier used by the farm business. The letter or email will ask to amend the supplier’s bank account number to an account under the fraudster’s control.

 

Mr Naylor said: "Farmers need to be aware of these risks and take steps to protect themselves. If not, they could be the next victim."


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Protect your farming business with these 10 steps:

  1. Never divulge online banking passwords or online banking security codes to anyone on the telephone, even if you think you are talking to the bank
  2. If you receive such a call asking for this information, no matter how plausible the request sounds, hang up immediately and report the matter
  3. Be aware, a bank will never call you to tell you to transfer your money to a ’safe’ account
  4. Do not rely on your phone’s caller display to identify a caller. Fraudsters can make your phone show a genuine number
  5. Ensure you have good quality Anti-Virus software, which is scanned and updated regularly
  6. Carry out operating system and software updates as soon as they become available
  7. Think before you click on links or attachments contained within emails from an unconfirmed or unexpected source
  8. Turn off your PC and call your bank helpdesk immediately if unusual screens appear prompting you for passwords or secure codes when using your online banking
  9. Do not immediately change the details you hold for a supplier’s account number if requested in an email or letter, even if you recognise the sender’s name. Phone them first using a number from existing records or website to make sure the instruction is genuine
  10. Back up your data to an independent source on a regular basis. This will enable you to use this data after cleansing your systems following a ransomware attack
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