Email Security Blog

Food Supply Chain Pain: Could Agricultural Ransomware Attacks Impact a Fall Harvest?

The food industry certainly has had its share of ups and downs in recent years. It wasn’t too long ago that the pandemic unsettled the industry with worker shortages, import and export freezes, panic buying, significant price increases, and more. Then, just as the smoke was beginning to clear, the war in Ukraine and an economic downturn began to unfold – bringing additional troubles to the food supply chain. And as if that wasn’t enough, cybercrime has stepped in to take center stage.

It's hard to forget what happened to JBS Foods. To get the world’s largest meat producer’s plants back online, the company paid a hefty $11 million in Bitcoin cryptocurrency to a Russian-speaking ransomware gang known as REvil. While it was certainly a hard lesson for JBS but it also sent a strong jolt of awareness to the rest of the food and agricultural industry. Sadly, JBS wasn’t the only organization in the food supply chain to suffer a cyberattack, they were just the largest so far. Other food-chain companies that have experienced a recent cyberattack include agricultural machinery manufacturer AGCO, a multi-state grain company, several grain cooperatives, feed mills, and more. 1,2

Increased cyberattacks against agricultural cooperatives are likely at harvest time.

The FBI has been following trends in the industry for some time and recently issued an alert notifying food and agriculture sector partners that “the number of cyberattacks against agricultural cooperatives during key seasons is notable.”1 It makes sense of course. Cybercriminals know it’s easier to cash in on a ransomware or similar phishing attack when the industry is at a key point in its operations.

Farmers are not the only ones who are vulnerable to phishing and ransomware attacks at harvest time. The food and agriculture sector consists of other operations who help put food on our tables, including:3

  • Restaurants
  • Registered food processors, manufacturers, and storage facilities
  • Water and wastewater systems, for clean irrigation and processed water
  • Transportation systems, for movement of products and livestock
  • Energy systems to power the equipment needed for agriculture production and food processing
  • Chemical companies for fertilizers and pesticides used in the production of crops

It’s also good to note that smart technology is becoming more commonplace among farming and agriculture companies which adds another layer of vulnerability. The latest generation of machinery – including tractors, harvesting equipment, and crop sprayers – relies heavily on artificial intelligence (AI) and software. It’s a similar vulnerability that could also bring planting and harvesting to a standstill.4

Planting the Seeds of Safety

The food industry has faced many unexpected and unavoidable stresses in recent years. While many of these issues are unpreventable, cybercrime is not. But you can’t do it on your own. To truly prevent a phishing or ransomware attack in today’s world of sophisticated hacking, you need the help of a third party.

INKY is the industry’s best solution for the security of your email. Cost-effective and powerful, INKY can be implemented quickly, regardless of whether your employees work at the office or remotely. INKY is a cloud-based email security platform that detects suspicious behaviors in order to block threats and prevent data leaks. INKY’s patented technology incorporates sophisticated computer vision, machine learning models, social profiling, and stylometry algorithms to keep you ahead of dangerous phishing threats – all without disrupting productivity. Acting like a security coach, INKY signals out suspicious behaviors by placing one or more of nearly 60 interactive warning banners in each email that continually coach users to make smart decisions.

Learn more about what a phishing attack can cost your business, and how INKY® can help prevent it.

Request an INKY demonstration today.

INKY is an award-winning, behavioral email security platform that blocks phishing threats, prevents data leaks, and coaches users to make smart decisions. Like a cybersecurity coach, INKY signals suspicious behaviors with interactive email banners that guide users to take safe action on any device or email client. IT teams don’t face the burden of filtering every email themselves or maintaining multiple systems. Through powerful technology and intuitive user engagement, INKY keeps phishers out for good. Learn why so many companies trust the security of their email to INKY. Request an online demonstration today.