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

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

They said these attacks may be more likely to happen 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’s not surprised to hear this because agriculture does rely on technology, including ordering fertilizer and grain. We are told these attacks can lead to a disruption in operations, causing financial loss and downsides for the food supply chain. Locally, since Maryland is a big driver in the Agriculture sector, we’re told an attack could have a significant impact.

“For Maryland alone, the agriculture sector commands about a $20 billion industry and also they also bring about 84,000 jobs to the economy of the state,” Stephan Tubene, Associate Professor of Agriculture Economics at UMES, said. “So, if there is this disruption in the way that food can’t be supplied or traded overseas, or even ordering fertilizer using a computer, the farmers are not able to access those suppliers; then, they might not be able to have enough inputs in order to produce enough and that will also reduce the amount of food being grown in the state.”

Tubene also said if we have to import some of the goods from overseas we will not be able to meet the supply and that will increase food prices at the grocery stores.

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

Categories: Local News, Maryland