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Hackers Have Found a Target in the U.S. Food Supply - the Grain Industry

In light of recent events, it appears that hackers have found a vulnerable target in the U.S. food supply chain - the grain industry. At least three U.S.-based grain distributors - Iowa-based New Cooperative and Farmers Cooperative, and Minnesota-based Crystal Valley Cooperative - have been hit by ransomware in a matter of weeks, at a particularly bad point in the year.

All three are Midwestern grain cooperatives that buy grain which is then processed and resold for use in livestock feed or fuel production, and all three were victims of organized cyber criminal action, just at the beginning of harvest when grain movement volumes are at their height.

The grain industry has evolved from manual transactions and recording to being much more digitized, creating an opportunity for hackers to lock up computer systems, and demand payment for its release.

Allan Liska, a ransomware analyst for cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, noted that the fact that these three attacks happened within the same industry and within such a short span of time indicates that the hackers may have infiltrated a company that manages internet services for the grain industry, or has found a vulnerability in software widely used by grain companies, meaning that there may be other victims that have not yet been made public.


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