Is the food industry the next target for ransomware?

The FBI warns that cybercriminals are currently targeting companies operating in the food and agricultural industries. Internet Division released a Private Industry Notice (PIN) To warn of ransomware attacks targeting the sector. No operation is too big or too small to be a goal.

According to the FBI:

Larger companies are targeted based on their perceived ability to pay higher ransom demands, while smaller entities can be considered soft targets, particularly those in the earlier stages of digitizing their operations…

In a sector increasingly reliant on smart technologies, industrial control systems, and internet-based automation systems, cybercriminal actors are using network vulnerabilities for data leakage and encryption systems. Victims of ransomware in the food and agricultural industry suffer significant financial losses due to ransom payments, lost productivity and treatment costs.

The PIN details several ransomware attacks that have affected the food and agricultural industries, including an attack in January 2021 on an unnamed US farm, which resulted in $9 million in losses due to disruption of agricultural operations. The ransomware attackers used compromised credentials to gain administrator-level access to internal servers.

A ransomware attack disrupted operations at a US beverage company in March 2021, while cybercrime actors demanded a massive $40 million ransom be paid in a November 2020 ransomware attack on a US-based international food and agricultural company. The good news is that the victims of the latest ransomware attack were able to restore their backups.

FBI-recommended mitigations

  • Regular offline backups and regular password changes (use strong passwords)
  • Vital data copies must not be modified or deleted from the system, keep copies of sensitive data and servers in a safe place (cloud, hard disk)
  • Use administrator access for software updates and update software regularly
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) must be used in conjunction with network segmentation
  • Disable any unnecessary access/RDP ports and monitor logs
  • User accounts with administrator privileges must be audited, and access controls must be configured with the least amount of privilege in mind
  • You should install antivirus and malware software, use secure networks, and avoid public Wi-Fi (consider VPN)
  • Consider including an email banner in messages that come from outside your company and disabling hyperlinks in emails you’ve received
  • Focus on awareness and training in cyber security (ransomware, scams and phishing)

How can modern companies defend themselves against ransomware attacks?

  • Critical Infrastructure Protection
    In recent years, the number and sophistication of ransomware attacks has increased, as have the expenses associated with them. From 2019 to 2020, average ransom requests more than doubled, with the largest request reaching $23 million. Electronic insurance payments increased 65% over the same period.
    Regardless of whether the malware is deployed in IT or OT systems, cyber actors can gradually extend a ransomware attack from just information technology (IT) and business processes to operational technology (OT) assets, which monitor and control operations material, which affects industrial production.
    The need for more attention when it comes to protecting key infrastructure is critical, so collaborating with File Veteran IT Solution Provider Like Columbus is a great place to start.
  • Custom data protection
    data security It is critical, but when so many industries and complex procedures are thrown into the mix, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different companies require different levels of data security. To protect yourself from breaches, you will need to devise a strategy that best meets your needs and addresses all possible ransomware scenarios.

Consider collaborating with your solution provider to better understand who, when and how data can be accessed, as well as the best approach to protecting your organization from ransomware and network malware intrusion.

Contact us to speak with one of our data security professionals about the best security solution for your business or to schedule a demonstration of our products and services.

Leave a Comment