Digital Trust – baking in cyber resilience, with BSI

Is your business vulnerable to cyberattacks? Cybercriminals have the food industry in their sights, so it pays to have a trusted partner by your side. 

Food and drink, by its very nature, are high risk. Its supply chains are fluid, its products are perishable, transportation of live animals has animal welfare consequences and finished products can spoil quickly. A cyber-attack can rapidly escalate into a food safety incident and immobilise an organization and its entire supply chain.

A ransomware attack earlier this year against JBS Foods disrupted meat processing across North America and Australia for nearly an entire week. It resulted in JBS, the largest beef supplier in the world, paying hackers about $11 million. (source: cnbc.com1)

The Food & Beverage sector saw cyberattacks increase by 1300%2 last year versus 800% in construction and 400% in utilities. The reason for this surge? The global pandemic. The shift to working from home resulted in more data breaches and ransomware attacks than ever before and as remote working becomes more of a mandatory requirement, one can expect cyberattacks to grow exponentially.

BSI sees an opportunity for food businesses to move from risk avoidance to risk tolerance, building in long-term organizational resilience. Businesses that prioritize cybersecurity enjoy enhanced consumer trust and reduced production disruption.

With food producers, processors and distributors enjoying a rapidly accelerating digital transformation, the long and complex farm-to-fork journey introduces risk at multiple stages.

The risks are as broad as they are large: from disgruntled ex-employees gaining access to override safety systems to cybercriminals disabling alarm systems that warn food safety controls have been remotely altered. These may be hypothetical, but they are real.

BSI insight indicates the food industry is largely oblivious to these cyber risks, both in terms of weak spots and consequences. This is exacerbated by the dynamic nature of food supply chains with their living and perishable assets. Another key exposure is the shift to a direct-to-consumer model and the inherent obligations and liabilities around data privacy.

An increase in technological complexity across the food sector makes the industry an attractive and relatively easy target for cyberattacks. BSI has long advocated and strongly encouraged the food industry to deploy appropriate measures to mitigate against exposures associated with this digital transformation. So, what can businesses do to safeguard their activities and reduce the risk and impact of cyberattacks?

Step one is to assess the scale, likelihood and impact of an attack, identifying and either removing or managing weak spots.

Food businesses should review their organizations’ technology infrastructure, starting with information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). Risk analysis should also embrace the use of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and Industrial Control Systems (ICS) that together form the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Introducing this new IIoT technology and overlaying it onto pre-existing OT/ICS infrastructure creates numerous vulnerabilities. A good example of this exposure is hard-wired components with default user credentials and passwords – prime targets for cybercriminals.

Step two is to make cyber awareness and training a priority across the entire business.

And thirdly, establishing a coherent incident response and business continuity plan to preserve production and minimize risks to supply chain integrity. Evaluation of risks at all stages of the supply chain – whether ingredient suppliers or IT support partners – is also essential.

BSI provides a complete range of cybersecurity services and solutions designed to ensure prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery of food processing and manufacturing systems from cyberattacks and compromise. Furthermore, BSI partners with leading cybersecurity technology vendors to deliver state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions to protect your organization’s brand, product integrity and supply chain resilience.

For more information visit BSI here.

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