County Insurance Services Ltd, based in Kidlington, Oxford, is helping rural businesses get started with GDPR as part of their ongoing reviews for insurance when it comes in to force on 25 May.

As well reported, if farmers and rural businesses suffer a data loss or breach, their businesses could face fines of up to £17.5m or 4% of global turnover, whichever is the greater.

Tim Sydenham, director at County and a keen data protection advocate, said: “Many rural businesses may think that these data rules only apply to large social media companies or other big data firms, but we are all affected by GDPR. If you have any employees, casual, volunteer or otherwise, that you hold personal or sensitive data for, these regulations will apply to you.”

“A major loss or breach of data isn’t just hacking. Losing accounts or records sent in the post, or losing a mobile phone that’s not password protected with a list of contact names, addresses and telephone numbers in, all count.”

He added: “Through reviewing passwords and ensuring papers are under lock and key, we urge business owners to consider their physical and computer security for their home or work computers.”

As part of their client commitment, County are guiding clients in potential measures for farmers to take and recommending either attending a nearby course or that a specialist data expert visit farmers who handle high amounts of customer & supplier data.

Lisa Mosson, a farming commercial executive at County, said: “When it comes to protecting against cyber losses, there could be business interruption costs to consider if the farm is faced with a lengthy investigation and potential loss of reputation following an allegation of wrongdoing.”

She added: “While an insurance policy won’t stop a breach, it could stop you farm from folding”

As recently as August 2017, an IpsosMORI survey found that 42% of UK businesses who didn’t consider online to be a core part of their business had identified security breaches or attacks in the preceding 12 months.