Be Aware of Ransomware Attacks in Agriculture
By Julie Tomascik
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cyber Division recently issued an alert warning the food and agriculture sectors that ransomware attacks may be more likely during the planting season.
According to the FBI, financial loss, loss of productivity, remediation costs, loss of proprietary or personally identifiable information, and reputational damage are just a few of the losses companies can incur as a result. due to ransomware or cyberattack.
This warning is one of many issued by the FBI over the past year regarding cybersecurity in agriculture and the increased risk of ransomware attacks.
The FBI noted the importance of agriculture and the impact that potential ransomware attacks could have on the country.
“A significant disruption in grain production could impact the entire food chain, as grain is not only consumed by humans, but also used for animal feed. In addition, a significant disruption in grain and corn production could impact commodity trade and stocks,” the warning states. “An attack that disrupts processing in a protein or dairy factory can quickly lead to product spoilage and have cascading effects down to the farm level, as animals cannot be processed.”
Steps to follow
The FBI has also outlined measures to help protect businesses, including:
- Regularly back up data, air space and password to protect offline backup copies.
- Implement a recovery plan that includes maintaining and retaining multiple copies of sensitive or proprietary data and servers in a physically separate, segmented, and secure location.
- Identify critical functions and develop an operations plan in the event of systems disconnection.
- Implement network segmentation.
- Install operating system, software and firmware updates/patches as soon as they are released.
- Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
- Use strong passwords and regularly change system and network account passwords.
- Disable unused remote access/RDP ports and monitor remote access/RDP logs.
- Require administrator credentials to install software.
- Audit user accounts with administered or elevated privileges and configure access controls with least privilege in mind.
- Install and regularly update anti-virus and anti-malware software on all hosts.
- Only use secure networks and avoid using public Wi-Fi networks.
- Consider adding an email banner to messages from outside your organization.
- Disable hyperlinks in received emails.
- Regularly focus on cybersecurity awareness and training.
For additional resources related to ransomware prevention and mitigation, visit stopransomware.gov.
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