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Farming cooperative shut down by ransomware

Two farms have been hit by a cyberattack within one week.

Across three New York rooftops, totalling more than 22,000 square metres (more than 236,000 square feet), Brooklyn Grange farms a wide variety of vegetables. — Photo: © AFP
Across three New York rooftops, totalling more than 22,000 square metres (more than 236,000 square feet), Brooklyn Grange farms a wide variety of vegetables. — Photo: © AFP

The Crystal Valley farming cooperative, which sells supplies like fertilizer to farmers, has been hit by a ransomware attack, causing them to shut down their IT systems and their daily operations to be severely interrupted.

The company reported: “The attack has infected our computer systems and interrupted the daily operations of our company. Due to this computer breach, all systems of the Mankato-based cooperative have been shut down until they can be restored safely and securely.”

Crystal Valley has become second Midwestern farm-services provider in a week to be forced to take systems offline due to cybersecurity incidents. The earlier incident struck New Cooperative Inc in Iowa. At the center of these attacks is a Russian-speaking cybercriminal group named BlackMatter. According to Reuters this cybercriminal group have gone public in terms of the digital assaults on the farms.

Security experts have traced similarities between BlackMatter and both the DarkSide and REvil ransomware gangs.

Looking at this incident for Digital Journal is Anurag Kahol, CTO and co-founder of Bitglass.

Kahol places the incident in the long run of cyberattacks hitting the U.S., many of which are in the form of ransomware. The expert notes: “This incident follows those on Colonial Pipeline and JBS, highlighting how common ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure have become.”

This leads to the type of cyberattack taking place: “Unfortunately, cybercriminals are more likely to target and put up a hefty ransom for large organizations that are vital to the flow of the U.S. economy in hopes that they will hastily pay the ransom to recover their operations.”

With ransomware being the primary threat, Kahol says that it is time to put in measures to make future attacks far more difficult. He advises: “To prevent ransomware attacks, organizations must obtain full visibility and control over their entire IT ecosystem.”

Furthermore, Kahol recommends: “Comprehensive security platforms such as a secure access service edge (SASE) can deliver end-to-end threat protection, while actively identifying and remediating both known and zero-day threats. With a multi-faceted, unified solution in place, organizations can proactively stay ahead of sophisticated threats”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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