Iowa farm services firm: systems offline due to cybersecurity incident

CHICAGO (Reuters) -Iowa-based farm services provider NEW Cooperative Inc said on Monday its systems were offline to contain a “cybersecurity” incident that it did not specify but later said it had contained.

The cooperative operates grain storage elevators in the top U.S. corn producing state, buys crops from farmers, sells fertilizer and other chemicals needed to grow crops and owns technology platforms for farmers that provide agronomic advice on the way to maximize their harvests.

“We have proactively taken our systems offline to contain the threat, and we can confirm it has been successfully contained,” NEW Cooperative Inc said in a statement. “We also quickly notified law enforcement and are working closely with data security experts to investigate and remediate the situation.”

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Several grain storage elevators operated by NEW Cooperative Inc contacted by Reuters were open. Farmers are gearing up for the corn harvest in the U.S. Midwest.

Cybersecurity has risen to the top of the agenda for the Biden administration after a series of high-profile attacks on network management company SolarWinds Corp SWI.N, the Colonial Pipeline company, meat processing company JBS JBSS3.SA and software firm Kaseya. The attacks hurt the United States far beyond just the companies hacked, affecting fuel and food supplies.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency declined to comment on the incident at NEW Cooperative.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“This is a very clear attack on an organization that is part of our critical infrastructure,” said Allan Liska, a cybersecurity expert with U.S. security firm Recorded Future. “This could result in disruptions to food delivery in parts of the country.”

(Reporting by Karl Plume, Editing by Franklin Paul and David Gregorio)

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