FBI says farmers should beef up security systems to protect data before harvest

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is asking that farmers take extra steps to secure their data ahead of the 2022 harvest season.

Gene Kowel is the special agent in charge with the Omaha Field Office and says there were 10 major ransomware attacks on cooperatives in the spring and harvest last year. “We expect these types of cyberattacks to continue.”

Speaking with reporters at Husker Harvest Days, Kowel told Brownfield agriculture is the most vulnerable industry, especially at harvest time. “There are many, many more participants in the supply chain. It’s not just a linear progression of a few big companies where they get their parts from, but there’s thousands and thousands of suppliers that are decentralized and that’s where we see those risks.”

He said farmers and ag businesses should prioritizing backing up-data, implement two-step authentication and secure all networks. “Farmers and ranchers do not often have the sophisticated kind of cyber-security infrastructure that a large multinational corporation might have.”

Kowel said if a producer or business suspect their data has been hacked, they should call law enforcement immediately.

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