Coops at risk for cyber attack

Photo courtesy of Envato Elements

From staff reports

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning agriculture cooperatives that due to it being planting season and harvest season coming up, cyber criminal activity may be on the rise. Not only is this a monetary issue for cooperatives, but ransomware can cause big disruptions in the food chain. 

Ag coops are of particular interest to cyber attacks due a coop’s willingness to pay the ransom so as not to lose time-sensitive products. 

According to an FBI report,  February 2022 Joint Cyber security Advisory1 authored by cyber security authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, ransomware tactics and techniques continued to evolve in 2021. Sophisticated, high-impact ransomware incidents .

 The following steps can be implemented to mitigate the threat and protect against ransomware attacks.

– Regularly back up data, air gap, and password protect backup copies offline. Ensure copies of critical data are not accessible for modification or deletion from the system where the data resides. 

– Implement a recovery plan that includes maintaining and retaining multiple copies of sensitive or proprietary data and servers in a physically separate, segmented, secure location (i.e., hard drive, storage device, the cloud). Identify critical functions and develop an operations plan in the event that systems go offline. Think about ways to operate manually if it becomes necessary.

– Implement network segmentation. Install updates/patch operating systems, software, and firmware as soon as they are released. Use multi-factor authentication where possible.

 – Use strong passwords and regularly change passwords to network systems and accounts, implementing the shortest acceptable time frame for password changes. Avoid reusing passwords for multiple accounts and use strong pass phrases where possible.

 – Disable unused remote access/RDP ports and monitor remote access/RDP logs.

– Require administrator credentials to install software. Audit user accounts with administrative or elevated privileges, and configure access controls with least privilege in mind.

 – Install and regularly update antivirus and anti-malware software on all hosts. Only use secure networks and avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. Consider installing and using a virtual private network (VPN).

– Consider adding an email banner to messages coming from outside your organizations. Disable hyperlinks in received emails.

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