September 13, 2022

FBI sees ransomware attacks on agriculture sector, warning farmers to protect themselves

MARYLAND– The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning farmers about potential ransomware attacks.

They said these attacks were more likely to occur during planting and harvesting seasons. Last year six companies were targeted and earlier this year there were two attacks.

A professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore said he was not surprised to hear this, since farming relies on technology, including ordering fertilizer and grain. We are told that these attacks can lead to disruption of operations, causing financial loss and inconvenience to the food supply chain. Locally, since Maryland is a big powerhouse in agriculture, we’re told an attack could have a significant impact.

“For Maryland alone, the agricultural sector is an industry worth about $20 billion and also contributes about 84,000 jobs to the state’s economy,” said Stephan Tubene, associate professor of agricultural economics at the UMES. “So if there is this disruption in the way food cannot be supplied or marketed overseas, or even order fertilizer using a computer, farmers are not able to access these providers; then, they might not be able to get enough inputs to produce enough and that will also reduce the amount of food grown in the state.

Tubene also said that if we were to import certain goods from overseas, we would not be able to meet the supply and it would increase food prices in grocery stores.

Professor UMES warns farmers to be on the alert and not to open links if they do not recognize who sent it. The FBI said to use strong passwords and change those passwords regularly; also use secure networks and avoid using public Wi-Fi networks.