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FBI warns: U.S. agriculture targeted for attack

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Nothing is off-limits when it comes to cyberattacks – even cream cheese.

Last year, a cyberattack targeted one of the largest cheese manufacturers in the U.S. This contributed to a cream cheese shortage felt all over the country.

The target of the cyberattack was Wisconsin-based Schreiber foods. Schreiber is one of the country’s largest marketers of dairy products.

This includes cheese slices, yogurt, and all-important cream cheese. They have annual sales of more than $5 billion.

The attack focused on plants and distribution centers. As a result, the company was unable to operate for several days.

Even before the cyber-attack, cream cheese producers were struggling to keep up. This was because of labor shortages and raw supply chain issues.

And to make matters worse, the cyber-attack was designed to hit around the holidays, a time when cream cheese sales increase thanks to holiday get-togethers.

On the consumer side, this meant a lot of folks couldn’t find cream cheese. It’s not a food that can be stockpiled like other foods.

The cream cheese shortage forced companies to get creative.

For example, Kraft, which owns Philadelphia cream cheese, said it would reimburse customers who buy a different dessert because they couldn’t find cream cheese.

And a famous cheesecake company in New York was forced to pause production because of the shortage.

The reality is that food and agricultural companies are a huge target for cybercriminals.

That’s because it’s composed of more than 2 million farms, accounts for one-fifth of America’s economic activity, and is almost entirely privately owned.

And right now, one of the biggest targets is the agricultural sector of the U.S. economy.

Recently, the FBI alerted agricultural companies that they will likely face increased cyber-attacks.

With that in mind, here are a few reasons why the agricultural sector is so vulnerable.

Planting season:

Right now, farmers around the country are planting crops that they will harvest in the fall. Hackers know this and know that it’s a busy time for farmers.

In other words, they will leverage the pressure of the planting season to force farmers’ hands to pay up to recover from an attack.

Hackers think that companies are more likely to pay a ransom because of the time of year.

Another way hackers can affect the planting season is by disrupting the supply of seeds and fertilizer.

Even though they might not directly go after the farmer, hackers could target supply companies.

This could affect you if you grow your own food. You should be prepared for the same challenges.

For instance, make sure you have plenty of seeds and fertilizer. These could be a hot commodity in the event of a cyber-attack.

IT:

My family is full of farmers. They are the backbone of America.

But one thing that most farmers aren’t concerned with is their IT department.

Agricultural companies cannot always afford IT staff. Their internet security staff is likely not well funded, trained, or experienced.

And most agricultural companies likely rely on their internet service provider for security.

Which means there are few protections in place to secure data.

If you work or do business with an agriculture company, be careful with what you share.

Other economic sectors:

The agricultural world is tied to many other critical infrastructures.

It’s connected to water and wastewater systems for irrigation, to the trucking industry for the movement of animals and food, to the chemical industry for fertilizer and pesticides.

The list goes on and on.

The point is, any disturbance to agriculture will have ripple effects through other industries.

As such, it’s never been more important in our lifetime to prepare to be self-reliant.

From food to energy, we need to be able to survive on our own. This starts with food and water storage.

Start today to keep ahead of any potential agriculture slowdowns due to hacking.

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