Agriculture the Second-Largest Target for Cyber Criminals

It’s a startling statistic. If cyber-crime was its own country, it would have the third-largest economy after the U.S. and China. That’s how lucrative it is, and agriculture is in the crosshairs of those cyber criminals.
“Eating is critical to everybody,” says Special Agent Byron Franz with the Milwaukee Division of the FBI. That’s why agriculture is the second-largest target for hackers.
Franz explains that agriculture of any size and commodity is at risk. In the past few years we’ve seen cyber attacks on international commodity trading firms, national meat packers, and regional grain cooperatives.
“And I can tell you that cyber threat actors are increasingly targeting food and agriculture businesses in the United States because they know that the likelihood of the payout is greater because it’s so critical- it’s critical infrastructure. And it’s gotten worse because the attack surface continues to grow, with the use on farms of Internet of Things devices, IoT devices, in all segments of their work.”
Franz adds that, unfortunately, we need to be on the defensive 100% of the time while cyber criminals only need to succeed 1% of the time to disrupt things. Training your employees to understand phishing—that’s phishing with a ‘ph’, not the fun fishing that gets you out of the house—is of utmost importance.
“That’s a targeted attack against you based upon email and texts where they’re trying to get you to click on a link or download an attachment of some sort which has malware, bad software attached that allows them access to your network. Phishing is mass distributed pain. That means people were sending this out pretending to be an Amazon scam or Norton or well-known providers that people may be utilizing that the attackers are pretending to be these people and conning them into, ‘Hey, you have to do this to patch this.’”
Franz and the FBI remind you to make sure passwords are strong and that using multi-factor authentication to gain access to critical systems will help prevent attacks.

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