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Simple steps towards cyber-crime prevention for the agricultural sector

Over the last few years the agricultural sector has increased their online presence but in doing so many are leaving themselves vulnerable to criminal activity. This is especially true for contractors, farmers and businesses as we become more and more reliant upon technology. Hackers don’t care if you are a global company or a local company – there are no boundaries to Cybercriminals.

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, a new area of cyber risk has emerged and, as ever, malicious adversaries will be looking for every opportunity to take advantage of the situation. The coronavirus outbreak has created an unexpected switch in the way we conduct day-to-day business and opportunistic Cybercriminals are using the pandemic to spread malicious Social Engineering campaigns. Cyber actors use Social Engineering and topical subjects, including COVID-19, to maximize their efforts and lure targets to click on a malicious links.

What is social engineering?

Social Engineering is where the human element of your business, rather than hacking techniques, is manipulated in order to gain access to online systems and data. The most common form of this is Phishing, where a malicious threat actor will purport to be a reputable person or entity and trick an individual into clicking on a link, or providing login credentials, allowing the Cybercriminal access to your network.

There has been a significant increase in the number of Phishing attempts claiming to be providing updates on COVID-19. Hackers are using growing fears to capitalise on those seeking up to date information and guidance, leading to a growth in malicious online activity. 

The following has been seen:

  • Emails purporting to be from the World Health Organisation (WHO) – asking users to click on links and provide login credentials1
  • Malware campaigns purporting to provide Coronavirus updates – asking for people to open files and click on links
  • Increased remote working providing gateways to hackers2

What can I do?

With fake news articles on the internet and in the press promoting remedies, cures and false advice around coronavirus, it’s also important to only share articles from trustworthy sources3. If you are in any doubt, then visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus or www.who.int/ for updates and information

  • Ring the business directly to confirm if they have changed their bank details
  • Check email sources, look for misspellings, suspicious URLs, use of public email addresses
  • Be wary of any communication asking for immediate urgency – check its source

Homeworking considerations:

  • Always use a trusted network when logging in
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) – set this up immediately, this process requires more than just a password, adding an extra piece of information needed to login4
  • Password strength, do use a combination of characters, capital letters, numbers and symbols and use different passwords for each account

During these difficult times, it is really important that contractors, farmers and businesses alike remain vigilant and guard against criminals using the publicity around coronavirus as a chance to target you with fraudulent emails, phone calls, texts messages or social media posts.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the way businesses have rapidly adapted, you could be leaving your business exposed. To find out more download the cyber security handbook5.

(1) https://www.who.int/about/scamalert/en/
(2) https://www.techradar.com/news/how-to-reduce-remote-working-cyber-security-attacks
(3) https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/coronavirus-fraud-and-scams/
(4) https://www.cfcunderwriting.com/resources/advisories/2019/07/client-advisory-implementing-multi-factor-authentication-is-critical/
(5) https://www.marshcommercial.co.uk/cyberfocus/

‘This is a marketing communication’
Marsh Commercial is a trading name of Jelf Insurance Brokers Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Not all products and services offered are regulated by the FCA (for details see marshcommercial.co.uk/info/ terms/). Registered in England and Wales number 0837227. Registered Office: 1 Tower Place West, London EC3R 5BU. NFP20.39