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FBI Warns Ransomware Attacks on Agriculture Co-ops Could Upend Food Supply Chain

Ransomware groups are looking to strike large agriculture cooperatives during strategic seasons, when they are most vulnerable, according to law enforcement.

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."

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Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
Kelly Jackson Higgins 2, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading