The risk of cyber attacks increases as local businesses digitize

Australia’s rural research institutes warn that the digitalization of Australia’s agricultural sector is at risk of large-scale cyberattacks.

The warning comes after a devastating ransomware attack that effectively paralyzed JBS’s operations in Australia and the United States, the world’s largest meat producers.

AgriFutures Australia, along with audit firm BDO, released guidelines on July 5 outlining how agribusiness can enhance cybersecurity against future threats.

by statementIn rural areas, investment in agtech has increased in recent years, with many producers automating farming and doing business via mobile phones and laptops.

Over the last five years, US $ 6.7 billion has been invested in agtech, surpassing US $ 1.9 billion in the last 18 months.

“The medical sector is aware of the risks associated with digitizing records and has moved to quickly improve and standardize cybersecurity risks. It will allocate sufficient funds and focus on the basics of cybersecurity. On the other hand, it involved outsourcing features that couldn’t be done internally, “said John Volki, cybersecurity partner at BDO Australia.

“Australia’s rural industry is the beginning of a cybersecurity journey. With the rapid spread of technology in recent years, the risk of digital attacks has increased. Now is the time for the industry to act. “

According to a survey conducted by AgriFutures and BDO, only 16% of local business owners had a response plan in case a cyberattack hit their business.

“Cybersecurity threats on farms can be widespread and can extend to personal privacy, sensitive farm information, and even IPs related to skills, knowledge, and data from agricultural systems. “Gorgina Townsend, AgriFutures’ manager of national rural affairs, said.

“The 2020 malware attack that stopped wool sales in Australia and New Zealand and the 2021 cyberattack on global meat processing giant JBS have caused significant damage to Australia’s agricultural sector. “She added.

In late May, the Ransomware Group targeted JBS’s information technology systems around the world and shut down sales and mass feeding operations across Australia and the United States. This meant that the incoming cow could not be put into the system.

In Australia, six sites had to be closed, including meat processing plants in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. Thousands of workers were also stuck.

The FBI attributed this attack to the Russian-linked hacking group REvil, also known as Sodinokibi.

A few days later, JBS was able to recover the system, but still decided to pay the group a $ 11 million ransom as “insurance” to protect its customers.

The incident raised concerns about food shortages across a wider population and exposing weaknesses in existing supply chains.

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