Agricultural company NEW Cooperative in Iowa (USA) was attacked by ransomware, forcing the company to shut down all of its systems. The BlackMatter hacker group behind the attack demanded a ransom of $ 5.9 million. The company said the attack could severely impact supplies of grain, pork and chicken if it fails to get its systems back online soon.
NEW Cooperative reminded BlackMatter that the hackers promised not to attack key critical infrastructure. The organization says its software controls about 40% of U.S. grain production and manages the feeding schedules for 11 million farm animals. BlackMatter responded that it disagreed that the farming company was categorized as critical infrastructure.
The BlackMatter website says the group is not targeting hospitals, oil and gas companies, non-profit and government organizations, or defense sector organizations. If hackers accidentally encrypt computers belonging to one of these organizations, the victim may ask for a free decryptor. According to the BlackMatter website, the list of “critical infrastructure” facilities is limited to power plants and water treatment plants.
NEW Cooperative says it has briefed law enforcement and brought in cybersecurity experts to investigate the situation. In the meantime, the company’s systems were shut down to contain the impact of the attack. NEW Cooperative claims it has managed to isolate the problem.
The farmer claims that shutting down its systems could have more serious consequences than hacking into the operator of the Colonial Pipeline. As a reminder, BlackMatter was associated with the DarkSide hacker group that attacked the Colonial Pipeline.