The FBI’s Cyber Division has issued a warning about potential cyberattacks on agricultural cooperatives and food plants amid increasing media coverage of recent fires and explosions at food processing plants across the United States.
“Ransomware actors may be more likely to attack agricultural cooperatives during critical planting and harvest seasons, disrupting operations, causing financial loss, and negatively impacting the food supply chain,” the FBI’s recent notice reads (pdf), noting that ransomware attacks in 2021 and early 2022 could disrupt the planting season by affecting “the supply of seeds and fertilizer.”
“A significant disruption of grain production could impact the entire food chain, since grain is not only consumed by humans but also used for animal feed. In addition, a significant disruption of grain and corn production could impact commodities trading and stocks.”
Detailing a spate of recent cyberattacks on food processing facilities and agricultural companies, the FBI listed at least four separate incidents since last summer.
“In July 2021, a business management software company found malicious activity on its network, which was later identified as HelloKitty/Five Hands ransomware. The threat actor demanded $30 million USD ransom,” the agency stated in one of its examples.