Ransomware operators are eyeing attacks on large networks of farmers, called agriculture cooperatives, during make-or-break planting and harvest seasons, when they are likely most desperate to pay, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A new advisory details previous attempts by threat actors since 2021 to disrupt agricultural co-op operations, including a Lockbit 2.0 attack on a critical farming supplier, and a July 2021 breach of a business management software company serving several agricultural cooperatives. Some of the attacks were successful and resulted in a production slowdown, the FBI says.
Another successful attack could affect the entire food chain, the alert warns.
"Cyber actors may perceive cooperatives as lucrative targets with a willingness to pay due to the time-sensitive role they play in agricultural production," the alert says. "Although ransomware attacks against the entire farm-to-table spectrum of the FA sector occur on a regular basis, the number of cyber attacks against agricultural cooperatives during key seasons is notable."