Major agriculture group New Cooperative hit by ransomware attack

Agriculture group New Cooperative group was hit by a ransomware attack over the weekend, potentially endangering operations of a company key to the agricultural supply chain.

A spokesperson for New Cooperative confirmed the attack to The Hill on Monday, noting in a statement that the company “recently identified a cybersecurity incident that is impacting some of our company’s devices and systems.”

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have proactively taken our systems offline to contain the threat, and we can confirm it has been successfully contained,” the spokesperson said. “We also quickly notified law enforcement and are working closely with data security experts to investigate and remediate the situation.”

Iowa-based New Cooperative is among the larger U.S. farm cooperatives, and according to Bloomberg News received a ransom demand of $5.9 million from cybercriminal group BlackMatter. 

“Please know that NEW Cooperative is treating this matter with the utmost seriousness, and we are using every available tool and resource to quickly restore our systems,” the company spokesperson told The Hill. “We appreciate the patience of our valued customers as we investigate this matter and work to restore functionality and will share additional information directly with our customers as we learn it.”

In what are thought to be screenshots of a negotiation between a spokesperson for New Cooperative and the hackers tweeted out by security researchers, New Cooperative noted that 40 percent of the nation’s grain production runs through its software, and that the ransomware attack would “break the supply chain very shortly” if the hackers did not relent. 

A spokesperson for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the key federal agency tasked with securing critical U.S. infrastructure, declined to comment in favor of comments from New Cooperative. 

Allan Liska, a senior intelligence analyst at cybersecurity group Recorded Future, was among security professionals tracking the ransomware attack Monday, telling The Hill that it was still unclear how far-reaching the attack might be. 

“New Coop is the 51st largest farm cooperative in the US, so there may be regional…