On September 1, 2021, the FBI issued an alert about possible ransomware attacks on the food and agriculture sector in the U.S. Days later, New Cooperative and Farmers Cooperative, Iowa, as well as Crystal Valley, Minnesota were hit by ransomware. They are the three leading grain procurers and distributors in the U.S. The attack created a ripple effect across the sector and allied industries.
Recently, on April 20, 2022, the FBI issued another warning to food and agriculture sector organizations of an increased risk of ransomware attacks as the harvest and planting seasons were near. In the following days, ZeroFox recorded seven instances of ransomware attacks targeting the sector in the U.S.
Were the Cyberattacks Preventable?
Technically, yes. There were timely alerts from the regulators specifying the type of attacks and the possible threat actors behind it. There is enough information on the internet on the modus operandi of these threat actors, methods to counter their actions, and possible steps of decryption. Still, the industry suffered. More than anything, this was a policy failure from the part of the respective managements of the victim firms.
Cyber incident management and mitigation has become a business decision, and any crucial business decision relies on the effective implementation of policies. Developing cyber security policies is among the primary steps in preventing cyber attacks.
Automated technology, online presence, or both are there in every industry, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks. Management can no longer wash their hands off the responsibility or delegate it to the specialists they hired. However, the fact remains that the tech guy (CISO) often fails to convince the moneybags (Chairman, shareholders, and the board of directors) about the urgent need to act on tips like this.
Timely Alerts Help Counter Cyber Threats
The board of directors must be knowledgeable about the situation and prioritize cybersecurity by demonstrating their commitment. Many know this, but still prefer to hold the CISO accountable for averting or mitigating such crises.
While we cannot make an entire board cyber-aware, the executive decision makers can counter this situation to a great extent by gaining timely cyber alerts from a trusted source. A timely provision of actionable intelligence – in this situation, notifying the FBI alert to the board of governance and the executive board, and acting on the preventive measures prescribed by the regulator and your source of information – is a sensible step a management must take. For that, managements can rely on cybersecurity services that:
- curate and share regulatory and industry alerts.
- collect and share information on the mentioned threat groups, their previous operations.
- are well-versed about possible mitigation steps and the ways to implement them.
Timely intelligence backed by deep analysis of historical data helps businesses establish and improve their cybersecurity policy.
ZeroFox issued a detailed advisory right after the attack on New Cooperative, which is available in the ZeroFox platform. Using diverse data sources and artificial intelligence-based analysis, the ZeroFox Platform identifies and remediates targeted phishing attacks, credential compromise, data exfiltration, brand hijacking, executive and location threats and more.