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Research has found that many rural farmers could be a vulnerable and easy prey for cyber criminals. In order to raise more awareness around the subject, and provide exposure to the rural communities NFU Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Lanakshire Partnership Against Crimes (LANPAC), Rural Watch (Neighbourhood Watch), Design Out Crime, the Scottish Partnerships Against Rural Crime, Police Scotland and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre(SBRC) teamed up to highlight the threats around traditional business and cyber resilience to the rural communities.

Carole Wyllie, Police Constable & Business Resilience Advisor, SBRC, spearheaded the cyber resilience presentation, and was accompanied by Gary Kenhard, Police Scotland Secondee & Business Resilience Advisor, on behalf of SBRC, at the Police Scotland-chaired, Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC)’s and NFU (National Farmers Union) Scotland’s, ‘Walk and Talk’ event on 10th March.   

The event took place at a local farmer’s property, Easton Farm in Lanark on Mar 10. The local Rural Crime Prevention Officer, Ross Legett, coordinated the Walk and Talk event in entirety for various partners across Scotland, who are involved with rural crime prevention, to participate and interact with local farmers and provide guidance and advice that will keep their business safer.

The event was also attended by several local farmers, along with representatives from key law enforcement organisations such as, Inspector Alan Dron, Police Scotland National Rural Crime co-ordinator, who talked about SPARC providing cohesive and sustained crime prevention advice tailored to rural communities. Stuart Ward, Police Scotland, Design Out Crime Manager, is an expert in the area of architectural safety and discussed the importance of safeguarding mechanisms and machinery to ensure crime can be prevented.

Carole spoke on the basics of cyber resilience, and how the community can take simple measures to build cyber defences such as internet safety, securing connectivity, passwords and emails, phishing attacks leading to ransomware, email compromise and more, followed by current scams, especially about the sudden increase in HMRC scams and several farmers across Scotland getting attacked by cyber criminals.

While many organisations attending the event talked about traditional business resilience, Carole emphasised on the crucial importance of highlighting the risks of cyber crimes to rural communities, and how we need to stay more vigilant in this digital age. The presentation was very well received and there was an evident demand for sharing similar such best practices for cyber safety with various rural communities of Scotland. The NCSC Toolkit, Cyber Security for Farmers – Guidance helping farmers improve the security and resilience of their business against cyber threats’ was shared with the farming community. Carole and Gary ended their talk by talking about various cyber security offerings from SBRC.

The event ended with partners walking and talking through each area of the farm, and ample guidance was provided in terms of traditional crime prevention as well as building cyber resilience to prevent cyber breaches.

The working relationship between Police Scotland and SBRC allows meaningful work to take place for the benefit of the Scottish business community. Through providing preventative information and guidance, SBRC continues to work towards keeping communities in Scotland safe and secure both online and offline.

If you are interested in learning more about the SBRC’s partnership with Police Scotland, or to attend the educational sessions we offer, get in touch at: [email protected]

About Carole – Carol Wylie is a Police Constable and Business Resilience Advisor at SBRC. She has been in the police for 19 years and was seconded to the SBRC at the end of March 2021. Carole has the portfolio of Retail, Tourism and Finance. Her role entails engaging with members from these fields and provide them with crime prevention advice and various Police led educational presentations. Outside of work Carole is a mum to 2 kids and “a wee annoying puppy”. Her spare time is taken up by running after the 3 of them.

NFU Scotland is Scotland’s leading agricultural organisation representing 9,000 farmers, crofters, growers and other supporters the length and breadth of the country.

SPARC is a multi-agency partnership collectively working together to tackle rural crime including providing crime prevention advice to those living, working and enjoying Scotland’s rural communities and environments.

Rural Watch Scotland is an extension of the Neighbourhood Watch Scotland movement is specifically aimed at the rural community of Scotland raising awareness around crime prevention.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is a national organisation delivering front-line services locally from three strategically positioned hubs based in the North, West and East of the country.

Design Out Crime – Secured by Design (SBD) is the official police security initiative that is owned by the UK Police Service with the specific aim to reduce crime and help people live more safely.