Cyberattack on Food Supply

by Jan Frazier

Minnesota (Washington Insider Magazine) There are really no cybersecurity rules that govern “the millions of food and agriculture businesses” across America. These businesses are nearly one-fifth of all American economies. The cyberattacks have become real.

There was a warning from security analysts at the University of Minnesota back in May about a growing danger in cybercrime, also known as ransomware. The University warned the U.S. Agriculture Department, saying that this ransomware “could wreak more havoc on Americans’ food sources than Covid-19 did.”

All of this became a reality a few weeks later when the “ransomware attack forced the shutdown of meat plants.” The plants that had to be shut down processed “more than a fifth of the nation’s beef supply.” These hackers know how to interrupt a vital part of the U.S. Economy.

The food supply is vulnerable to digital threads as seen last week in the hack of the huge meatpacking giant JBS. Not only farmlands but also slaughterhouses are deeply affected. 

However, federal oversight concerning cybersecurity remains light even though the warnings have been great. “An attack could bring consequences ranging from higher grocery prices to contaminated food.”

Only voluntary guidelines exist for the “millions of food and agriculture businesses that account for about a fifth of the U.S. Economy. ” The USDA is the only federal agency that does anything to oversee the economy. Other industries keep watch on cyberattacks; however, the food industry “disbanded its group in 2008.”

Now, Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, says that these cyber attacks are their “new reality.” In addition, Representative Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), who is a member of both the House Intelligence and Agriculture Committee, says that the “agricultural supply chain hasn’t received enough attention across the entire federal government.”

Crawford said in an interview with Politico, “If you eat, you’re involved in agriculture. We all need to recognize that it’s a vital industry.”

SOURCE

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