Last month Optus, Australia’s second largest telecommunications company, announced that identifying details of up to 9.8 million customers were stolen from their customer database. The customer details, dating back to 2017, include names, birth dates, phone numbers, email addresses, and – for some customers – addresses and driver’s licence or passport numbers.
Exactly what risk this places those customers in is yet to be determined but it is anticipated that the data will be distributed across the dark net, where cyber criminals can then use the data to commit identity theft and fraudulent credit applications or use the personal information to gain trust and as a way in for future phishing attacks.
The news of this data breach has raised many questions for customers including how long companies should be allowed to keep your personal data after you have ceased being a customer to that company. Advice on how individuals can protect themselves against data breaches include changing passwords and activating multi-factor authentication on more sensitive accounts, such as banks and superannuation accounts.
Cyber-crime is undoubtedly a very real concern for all agribusinesses these days, but old-fashioned crime and on farm theft is an increasing threat for farmers as well. Livestock, materials, equipment, produce, fuel, vehicles and machinery theft and damage or vandalism to farm property appears to be on the rise with reports across the state of numerous incidents.
Research shows that livestock theft, theft of materials, and illegal hunting and fishing seem to be more prevalent for remote or larger farms while farms situated closer to urban areas are more likely to experience theft of farm machinery and equipment, theft of tools, farmhouse robbery, theft of farm vehicles or vandalism. Research also indicates that farms smaller than 100 hectares are more likely to experience illegal dumping of waste and almost half of the occurrences of theft are crimes that occurred within sight of public roads.
The ‘multi-factor’ approach for traditional on farm theft includes ensuring those items usually a target for theft are locked away or at the very least out of site, increased community awareness and a general neighbourhood watch culture may also help.
Not unlike crime in the cyber world, farm theft is becoming more sophisticated, sometimes opportunistic but often planned and well thought through. It is important that individual enterprises and communities build their capacity to withstand crime, protect their data, their personal and business possessions, and assets. Adequate policing resources are needed to help keep farming communities safe and ongoing training and support for businesses to build their cyber security strong.