BlackMatter hackers demand $5.9 million in cryptocurrency ransom from farm cooperative A group of BlackMatter hackers attacked Iowa-based farm cooperative New Cooperative, demanding $5.9 million in cryptocurrency ransom to unlock data.
New Cooperative sells grain for farmers. A New Cooperative employee told local media that hackers used a ransomware program to block files with information about supply chains, as well as distribution schedules for chicken, hog and cattle feed.
To unlock the files, the attackers demand that the cooperative pay them $5.9 million in cryptocurrencies by Sept. 25. BlackMatter is threatening to release billing data, research and development documents, and soil mapping software if the ransom is not sent by the specified deadline.
As precautions, the cooperative was forced to shut down its computer network as well as its soil irrigation and fertilizer control system. New Cooperative employees tried to negotiate with the hackers to unlock the files without receiving payment.
The BlackMatter hackers claim that they do not normally attack critical life support facilities such as hospitals, utility lines and power plants. Therefore, when “negotiating” with the attackers, New Cooperative stated that it should not have been attacked because critical infrastructure was involved.
New Cooperative said the hack threatened to affect the software that controls 40 percent of the country’s grain production, which in turn would disrupt the feeding schedule of 11 million animals. Cybersecurity experts fear that if New Cooperative pays the hackers a ransom, it will lead to more attacks on agricultural companies, especially farm cooperatives.
Earlier, the FBI said that agricultural producers have been increasingly targeted by hackers lately. A few months ago, another group of hackers REvil attacked one of the world’s largest meat producers JBS Holdings. As a result, it was forced to pay the extortionists $11 million in bitcoins. (