Cyber security and your farming business

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Source: Government of Canada

As agricultural and agri-food businesses become more and more digitized and connected online, the risk of cyber disruptions increases. Cyber disruptions can have devastating effects including interrupting key services, impacting consumer trust and affecting business profitability. Put cyber security measures in place to prevent cyber disruptions, and to protect your business.

Minimize your risk of a cyber disruption

Cyber incidents can lead to many types of disruptions, such as cyber extortion, breach of confidential information and technology failure. Take practical steps to improve your cyber security and protect your business.

  • Gather information and plan ahead
    Take time to document information on your business-critical digital systems. Identify ways to protect systems from a cyber incident and recover them as quickly as possible after a disruption.
  • Stay alert to the ways your cyber security can be compromised
    Don’t click on unverified links in emails or text messages. As well, never reveal business or personal information to unsolicited callers. Always confirm calls directly with your financial services or suppliers first, including IT service providers.
  • Put physical and digital safeguards in place
    Make sure your hardware and software is up to date, apply all current patches, lock server cabinets and use strong passwords.
  • Watch what you share on social media
    Don’t over-share information about your business or farming operations. Even seemingly harmless practices like sharing your vacation plans can put you at risk.
  • Back up your most important information regularly
    Back up and store information in a safe place. For example, back up your data on an external hard drive and on a cloud back-up service.
  • Ask your suppliers about their cyber security safeguards
    Ask your suppliers how they safeguard their information, and yours, and what tools they use.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access your on-farm digital systems
    Instead of using public Wi-Fi, purchase and use a VPN (virtual private network) service for mobile devices.
  • Make a sketch of your on-farm networks and digital systems
    Map out the computers, sensors, servers, mobile devices, automated equipment, environmental control systems, financial systems, and other hardware that are connected within your on-farm networks. Use this to understand what information is critical to your farm business and what could happen if it’s corrupted or not available. This will help you identify any vulnerable areas and create a plan to make them more resilient.
  • Make a list of suppliers
    Keep a list of all suppliers whose services involve points of contact with your on-farm digital systems.
  • Consider your priorities
    Be familiar with how you would prioritize getting your systems and technologies back up and running after a cyber disruption. For example, prioritizing your harvesting equipment, biosecurity systems, renewable energy sources, animal welfare, etc.
  • Reach out to your IT service providers and sector associations
    Get technical help and stay informed about new threats and how to manage them.

Content adapted from the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance.

Report a cyber incident

If you believe you may have been a victim of a cyber incident, report your concerns to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security’s Cyber Centre. The Centre can provide advice, guidance and services.