Australia’s food supply is under threat from a new type of enemy: food hackers. Are they coming for your bananas? In a word, yes. These cyber criminals are experts at infiltrating food systems and wreaking havoc. They could, for example, contaminate food with harmful bacteria or disrupt the supply chain by tampering with food labels.
The director of a national cybersecurity firm has warned that Australia is uniquely vulnerable to these “food” attacks. Why? It is claimed our food system is complex and interconnected, and it relies too heavily on technology. This makes it hard to protect against cyber attacks. What’s more, our food supply is often shipped long distances, which makes it difficult to track and trace contaminated food. This means that if there was a major food hack in Australia, it could have devastating consequences for our nation’s food security.
This time last year, JBS Foods, the world’s biggest meat processor, was held ransom by Russian-based hackers for $US11 million last year. The cyber food hacker attack shut down the company’s global operations for five days, including multiple Australian abattoirs.
“It’s not a matter of ‘if’ a major attack will happen to the Australian food and beverage sector, it’s a matter of ‘when’,” said Claroty Australian regional director Lani Refiti. Still not convinced…? Consider this, JBS Foods says it paid a criminal gang $14.2 million in Bitcoin to end the cyber attack that ground its operations to a halt around the world.