Agrifood cyberattack threats on the rise

Ever since JBS USA experienced a cyberattack in May 2021, the threat of such attacks against the agrifood sector has only increased.

International hacker in black pullover and black mask trying to hack government on a black and red background. Cyber crime . Cyber security.
International hacker in black pullover and black mask trying to hack government on a black and red background. Cyber crime . Cyber security.
Kovalevich28 | Bigstock.com

Ever since JBS USA experienced a cyberattack in May 2021, the threat of such attacks against the agrifood sector has only increased. 

According to the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC), the most common attacks are ransomware in which hackers block access to a computer system until a ransom is paid. Demands have ranged anywhere from $9 million to $30 million.

The CIAC has cited four attacks since May 2021 including a meat-packing business in May 2021, six grain cooperatives in June 2021, a feed milling company in February 2022 and a multi-state grain processing company in March 2022. 

The CIAC also provides best practices to prevent attacks, which include:

  • Back up data regularly,
  • Develop an incident response plan,
  • Conduct regular vulnerability scanning,
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi networks,
  • Engage in periodic cyber security training
  • And terminate system access for former employees.

The JBS 2021 attack

JBS confirmed that hackers infiltrated the company’s information technology servers in a statement May 31, 2021. The attack caused suspension of operations at processing plants in Canada and Australia.  

The two perpetrators who lead the attack as part of a string of ransomware attacks were arrested and indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in November 2021. 

“This ransomware strain has wreaked havoc across the globe,” Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray stated. “Extorting vast sums and inflicting significant damage with attack on, to name just a few, JBS Foods, local governments in Texas, hospitals, schools, 911 call centers and, of course, Kaseya.”

According to the WATTPoultry.com Top Companies Database, JBS is the world’s largest protein supplier and the second largest food company with operations in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Mexico and Europe. 

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