News and Updates on Information Technology

Food for Thought: New Cooperative & Crystal Valley Cooperative

Exploit: Ransomware

New Cooperative & Crystal Valley Cooperative: Agricultural Services

Twin breaches in agriculture had the potential to cause significant disruptions in the US food supply chain. Iowa-based farm service provider New Cooperative was the first ag company hit with a ransomware attack in late October, causing the company to shut down its IT systems. As part of its announcement, the company stated that there would be “public disruption” to the grain, pork and chicken supply chain if its operations are not restored quickly. Following the incident, New Cooperative officials said that 40% of the nation’s grain production runs through its software.

New ransomware group BlackMatter claimed responsibility, releasing proof on their dark web leak site, saying that they have 1,000GB of data. BlackMatter demanded a $5.9 million ransom from New Cooperative, which the organization refused to pay. Minnesota-based farm supply and grain marketing cooperative Crystal Valley was the next hit by a ransomware attack a few days later. The company announced that all of its corporate IT systems were shut down and they were unable to process credit card payments. It also noted that this is a very bad time for cyberattacks in the industry as it is harvest season.

Key Takeaway: Ransomware attacks that against industries that are both under pressure and in essential economic positions became a regular occurrence during 2020 and that trend is continuing.