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20/09/2021

Ifac reminds Kilkenny farmers to protect farm data - click for tips!

Ifac reminds Kilkenny farmers to protect farm data

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Ifac, Ireland’s farming, food and agribusiness specialist professional services firm, is reminding Kilkenny farmers to protect their farm data.

Almost 80% of farmers surveyed by Ifac for its 2021 Irish Farm Report now use technology in their business every day.

While this brings advantages in terms of streamlining processes, saving time and boosting productivity, it also introduces digital and cyber risks that farmers need to understand and manage, with financial losses and the leaking of confidential data being two of the major worries.

Below are some of these suggested measures including keeping systems updated, using strong passwords, maintaining regular backups, controlling access to accounts and devices, avoiding malware and being vigilant about scams.

Keep devices up to date - The easiest way to keep devices, software and apps up to date is to install updates automatically.

Replace outdated computers - Old computers are more vulnerable to attack, as well as being more likely to develop faults that could result in the loss of data.

Back-up your data - Making regular backups of your important data and keeping them off-premises will save you from the worst effects of a malware or ransomware attack.

Keep your devices safe - Keep all of your devices safe, particularly if you use the same devices for business and personal work.

Switch on password protection - Activate authentication such as screen lock, PIN, fingerprint, or FaceID for your computer, mobile phone, and other devices.

Use an encryption product - Encrypt your data to prevent unauthorised access. Use BitLocker for Windows, or FileVault for macOS. These are built into the operating system. All you need to do is turn them on.

Track lost and stolen devices - Most devices have free, web-based tools that you can enable to track the location of the device, lock it remotely, erase data remotely, and retrieve a backup of data stored on the device.

Beware of malware and ransomware - The Garda National Cybercrime Bureau has seen a significant increase in the number of ransomware attacks in 2021. Malware is usually designed to steal or extort money from you, often by holding your data to ransom. It can lock your device or make it unusable, immobilise farm vehicles, steal, delete or encrypt data, interfere with any automated systems that you use, divert confidential data into the public domain and use services such as premium rate phone lines that cost you money.

Malware can attack your laptop and mobile phone, but it can also target anything which connects to the internet. To protect against malware, keep an up-to-date backup separate from your computer and consider using cloud services to back up your files.

Antivirus software - Make sure your antivirus protection is turned on and up to date. Antivirus software should be used on all computers, laptops, and mobile phones if possible. Only use official sources to update your software and systems.

Attachments and links - Don’t open attachments or links unless you know and trust the source.

Passwords - Criminals rely on the fact that a lot of people use simple passwords and/or use the same password for all of their accounts. Make sure that you use separate passwords for each of your devices and online accounts, especially email accounts. Wherever possible, make the password strong and for your most important accounts, make it unique. Consider using a password manager. Change all default passwords. For every new device, you start using, including your Wi-Fi network, change the manufacturer's default password to a new one of your own. If you write down your passwords, store them securely, away from your device.

Turn on two-factor authentication - Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a free security feature that provides an extra layer of protection to your online accounts. It checks that it’s you trying to log into your account. It means that even if a criminal knows your password, they won’t be able to access your accounts.

Social media and online presence - Don’t allow the information you and your employees share online to increase the vulnerability of your business. When using social media think about what you are posting, and who has access to it. Use privacy options to control who can see your information.  Control who can access your accounts and make sure all accounts have unique passwords and use 2FA. Check that your website host is a legitimate company with the correct security settings and also think about the protection you might need if you have an online shop or booking system.

Be vigilant about scam emails, text messages, and phone calls - A typical scam will try to convince you to click a link, sending you to a website that could download viruses onto your computer, or steal your passwords and personal information. Some scams promote bogus investment opportunities or advertise fake machinery for sale through what may appear to be a legitimate dealership. Others claim to be from official agencies such as Revenue.

The aim is to trick you into giving away information that can enable the fraudsters to take money from you or access your business accounts. If you think you have been the victim of a scam or fraud you should report it to your local Garda Station and use the online reporting service of the website or forum on which you were scammed.

 Remember, the Department of Agriculture, your bank, and other official sources will never ask you to supply personal information in an email or text.

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