The nation’s food supply – already under considerable strain from logistical problems and soaring prices – now faces an increased threat from ransomware, according to a new Private Industry Notification from the FBI. The critical planting and harvesting seasons seem to be the focus of this elevated threat as malicious actors aim to cripple the food and agriculture sector at times where they’re more likely to pay ransoms.

As evidence, the FBI outlines several recent cyberattacks against grain producers and millers from 2021 through this year. As recently as last month, a multi-state grain company suffered a Lockbit 2.0 ransomware attack. The grain company also sells seeds and produces fertilizers that are critical for spring planting. In February this year, two attempted ransomware attacks targeted a grain milling company.

An Ongoing Threat to a Critical Industrial Sector

This year’s attacks on the food and agriculture sectors come on the heels of several successful attacks in 2021. Six grain cooperatives were compromised by a mix of ransomware strains including Conti and BlackByte. A business management software company had its network infected with HelloKitty/Five Hands ransomware. The attackers demanded a $30 million ransom payment.

This ransomware attack also led to secondary infections among the company’s clients, including numerous agricultural cooperatives. “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,” the FBI notification stated. The FBI further noted that disruptions in grain and corn production could also affect commodities trading and stocks.

Second Warning in Less Than a Year

This week’s security notification by the FBI follows a similar warning issued just over six months ago. That private industry notification, dated September 1, 2021, warned that attackers were seeking to exploit weaknesses among small farms as well as larger food producers for financial gain and to disrupt food supply chains.

The September notification further highlighted the potential impact that ransomware attacks can have on members of a critical industrial sector such as food and agriculture. One victim was identified as a U.S. farm that lost $9 million in revenue after it was forced to close in the wake of a successful cyberattack that exploited compromised administrator credentials.

Protecting Attack Vectors with SecureDrive

One of the most critical considerations for protection against ransomware is making sure that backups remain offline, encrypted, and in multiple versions and locations. Any backup system connected to an infected network can be vulnerable to encryption and deletion by ransomware. Maintaining offline backups ensures that you have a complete record of critical business data that cannot be deleted or modified by a cyberattack.

SecureDrive® and SecureUSB® storage devices are FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validated and hardware encrypted to give you the most advanced data security available in a portable external drive. SecureDrive® KP and BT devices provide the ultimate security for your offline backups. Authenticated either by on-board keypad and PIN or via a smartphone and secure mobile app, your critical backup data remains safe from ransomware.

Hardening Endpoint Security

Compromised USB flash drives pose one of the greatest risks to your computer network. That’s why SecureData developed SecureGuard USB, a state-of-the-art data loss prevention port blocker that works with our Remote Management (RM) Console to give IT administrators total control over portable storage devices from a centralized hub.

SecureGuard USB and the RM Console work with our SecureDrive® BT and SecureUSB® BT devices to provide advanced data protection by limiting computer access to authorized devices only. IT administrators can also limit drive access to BT devices to specific geographical locations or time periods. They can also remotely authorize access, reset passwords, and remotely wipe drives in case of loss or theft.

SecureData has driven innovation in hardware-encrypted digital storage for more than a decade. Our solutions give companies the ability to better control access to critical data and to defend computer networks from unauthorized access.

Call us at 424-363-8535 today to speak to one of our data security experts about a storage solution that’s right for your business.

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