Ransomware, Threat Management, Threat Management

Ransomware actors could disrupt food supply during planting, harvesting seasons

A tractor plows under what would have been Spring Mix, a popular and widely distributed salad mix on April 28, 2020, in Greenfield, Calif. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

The FBI warned the food and agriculture sector Thursday that ransomware actors were more likely to attack during the critical planting and harvesting seasons, which would disrupt operations, cause financial losses and negatively impact the food supply. 

The FBI noted in the private industry notification that ransomware attacks against six grain cooperatives during the fall 2021 harvest and two attacks in early 2022 could impact the season by disrupting the supply of seeds and fertilizer.

“Cyber actors may perceive cooperatives as lucrative targets with a willingness to pay due to the time-sensitive role they play in agricultural production," the notification said. "Although ransomware attacks against the entire farm-to-table spectrum of the FA sector occur on a regular basis, the number of cyberattacks against agricultural cooperatives during key seasons is notable.”

The notification detailed some of the attacks against the food and agriculture sector, including a March 2022 on a multi-state grain company that suffered a Lockbit 2.0 ransomware attack, as well as an attack on the grain cooperatives using ransomware variants such as Conti, BlackMatter, Suncrypt, Sodinokibi and BlackByte.

The FBI offered recommendations the food and agriculture sector can take to reduce the threat of a ransomware attack, as well as links to resources. 

Stephen Weigand

Stephen Weigand is managing editor and production manager for SC Media. He has worked for news media in Washington, D.C., covering military and defense issues, as well as federal IT. He is based in the Seattle area.

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