With digital data becoming a fundamental part of most agricultural businesses in order to boost profitability, it provides an ideal opportunity for criminals to cause disruption to the industry, according to Kevin Porter, director of business development and sales at Xcina.
Speaking at the CropTec Show, he said: “Many things are starting to become connected, including drones, satellite data, real time weather data and information from machinery.
“Since 2006, the growth of cybercrime has increased exponentially and as we start to use more and more of these technologies, it will become an even greater threat to the agriculture industry.
“States such as Russia and North Korea are using cyber as a way to attack the UK, and the agricultural industry is one of those industries they are targeting. Equally, it could be a 15-year-old child that is bored in their bedroom, who could also attack data.
“There are two main types of attack we see. State players will corrupt data to cause disruption to the food supply, or criminals will look to hold farmers and organisations to ransom to make money.
“The attacks are growing in sophistication. Corrupting data that stops machinery from working or doing the opposite than expected is very easy to do.
“So far one in five organisations have been attacked at a cost of $3 trillion to industry.”
Xcina provide consulting services and solutions to small enterprises to allow business to protect themselves against attacks. Mr Porter suggests training and awareness is key.
“The industry needs to build security into their systems. Farmers need to have basic security measures in place such as strong passwords, be aware of phishing emails, train employees in cyber awareness, patch all computers so they are up to date and, depending on size, scale and risk, apply the Government’s Cyber Essentials programme.”