Ag’s Phishing Problem

Sep 24, 2021

The only thing standing between you and your weekly bread purchase might actually be… a farm cooperative’s software firewall.

Iowa-based New Cooperative Inc. was the victim of a cybersecurity attack last weekend. According to Bloomberg News, the co-op received a ransom demand of $5.9M from cybercriminal group BlackMatter.

Now’s not the time: Harvest is gearing up, and New Cooperative operates grain elevators, amongst other services. The company had to take its systems offline to contain the threat. They say it’s been successfully contained but are still working to get their systems up and running all while working to transport grain to livestock and poultry farms. The co-op also disabled its soil-mapping platform as a precautionary measure.

Not the supply chain again: New says 40% of the nation’s grain production goes through its software—an amount that, with systems down, could cause issues in the supply chain.

“This is a very clear attack on an organization that is part of our critical infrastructure,” said Allan Liska, a senior analyst with U.S. cybersecurity firm Recorded Future. “This could result in disruptions to food delivery in parts of the country.”

The hackers set a deadline of Sept. 25 to provide the ransom in cryptocurrency.

Very phishy: Attacks like these on the agricultural industry are a major concern. You may remember JBS USA recently suffered a similar attack and chose to pay the $11M ransom demanded. Businesses are pushing the Biden administration to work on cybersecurity issues.