Farmers A Target For Hackers Following Government Funding

by Chris Fairbairn

Monday, November 6th, 2017

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Scottish PR Experts report on farmer being targeted by hackers

FARMERS could become the next big target for cyber criminals following bumper payments from the Scottish Government.

Following approval at Holyrood, payments worth £254million were made in late October to farmers and crofters – up to 90% of their Common Agricultural Policy basic payment support loan.

Yet by conducting simple research, it is possible for anyone to find out how much an individual farmer has received in previous CAP payments and how much they will likely receive this year.

Experts from the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) believe this widely publicised payment makes farmers a prime target for cyber criminals.

Gerry Grant, Chief Ethical Hacker with the SBRC, said: “I know how vital these payments are to the livelihood of farmers and crofters.

“This makes it even more important that they’re fully aware that it can make them an easy target for criminals to try and scam them.

“Criminals can easily work out an accurate estimation of what a farmer is likely to receive in CAP payments and armed with this information, they can try and steal the money.

“They can send various emails to try and get passwords for bank accounts or even try and trick unsuspecting farmers into making payments to the wrong account.”

This type of cybercrime is known as CEO or Mandate fraud and could potentially put famers’ livelihoods at risk.

Experts are urging farmers to be conscious that they will likely be targeted over the coming weeks and should be extra vigilant about any suspicious emails or phone calls.

The types of calls will usually involve someone asking them to take urgent action in relation to payments or their bank accounts.

Anyone who receives a suspect call is urged to verify the email address or phone number with the person who initiated contact.

They can do this by hanging up and searching the internet for the relevant phone number or address.

Things farmers should be on the lookout for:

  • Emails from suppliers asking for funds to be transferred to a different bank account
  • Emails claiming that there is a problem with an account
  • Phone calls from banks saying that there appears to be unusual activity on their account.

For more information on the SBRC and its services, visit www.sbrcentre.co.uk

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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is an Account Director with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood Partnership. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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