Ransomware attacks easy to execute, says cybersecurity expert

Published: Jun. 3, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 5:54 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Governor Kristi Noem discussed the cyberattack on the JBS meat processing plants Thursday. The company was the victim of a ransomware attack that posed a threat to the U.S. food supply.

Work was halted Tuesday at the meat processing plants across the nation due to a suspected Russian ransomware attack. JBS is the top beef producer in the country, making this attack critical to the U.S. food industry. Meat prices could start to go up because of the temporary shutdown.

Governor Kristi Noem spoke about the cyberattack while announcing a grant for South Dakota meat processors.

“We’ve seen hackers come in and be able to impact over 20% of our nation’s capacity just by going after their computer systems, and that’s a real threat to us, too,” Noem said.

Operation resumed Wednesday after the meatpacker said it resolved the issue. But experts say that this kind of ransomware attack is simple, and it may not be long before something like this is attempted again.

Nathan Belcher, an information security analyst at South Dakota Mines, said that there are precautions companies can take to prevent cyberattacks.

“Things like keeping your software up to date, not clicking links that you didn’t solicit,” Belcher said. “Especially e-mails coming in. Things you didn’t expect, or you don’t know who it’s from, don’t open attachments or links.”

Belcher said that businesses should be prepared for attacks by making sure their software is backed up and having a response plan.

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