Ransomware strike targets US agriculture industry, White House quietly hits back

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Biden administration has not yet held perpetrators responsible in recent cybercrime attacks

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An industry marked by President Biden as “off limits” for Russian hackers was hit in a ransomware attack earlier this week when the operations of two agricultural co-ops in Iowa and Minnesota were disrupted.

In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, Biden warned the Kremlin that cyberattacks against 16 US industries, including agriculture, would not be tolerated.

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The president said it was an attempt to establish a “cyber security system” and restore “order” after the largest US fuel pipeline and a major meatpacking company were shut down. Ransomware Schemes.

US grain, pork, chicken supplies threatened by $5.9M ransomware attack on major agricultural conglomerate

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On Sunday, Crystal Valley, a Minnesota-based agricultural supply and grain marketing cooperative, was hit by a ransomware attack that “infected computer systems” and “severely disrupted the company’s daily operations,” the group said in a statement. said Statement.

The co-op did not respond to Granthshala News’ questions about the ransom amount or who is suspected behind the latest attack.

But reports emerged the next day that New Cooperative, an Iowa-based agricultural cooperative, was under another attack, with hackers demanding a $5.9 million cryptocurrency payment in exchange for renewed access to its food supply chains.

The New Cooperative did not respond to Granthshala News’ request for an interview. but according to wall street journalThe Russian cybercrime group Blackmatter is believed to be behind this attack.

one in screen shot By Dark Feed, the group appeared to mock the New Cooperative, suggesting that they do not fall under the “critical” infrastructure outlined by Biden.

The farmer group warned the cybercrime group in an online chat that they attacked the agriculture industry and could face dire consequences from the US government, Recorded Future shared in a Tweet.

Despite reports that Blackmatter was negotiating with the Iowa Cooperative, a National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson told Granthshala News that the US government has not formally held any specific group responsible for the attacks.

“That being said, we are bringing the full weight of the capabilities of the US government to disrupt the ransomware networks and facilitators behind this disruptive activity,” the spokesperson said. “We are taking full government ransomware efforts to address the growing threat from ransomware.”

An NSC spokesperson said the US government is working with private entities to modernize security as well as disrupt the ransomware infrastructure and actors.

But former CIA Moscow station chief Daniil Hoffman argued that not enough has been done in the way of detention.

“What we do know is that we were hit with another attack,” he said. “That means we haven’t stopped them. Russia is allowing these groups Blackmatter and Revil … to inhabit their territory.

“This administration needs to stop Russia and the way you are combating it,” he said. “Go tell the Russians that if you can’t stop them, we’re going to stop them, and then take action against them.”

Treasury to approve SUEX virtual currency exchange on ransomware transactions

On Tuesday the Treasury Department said it would ban virtual currency exchange Suex OTC, SRO, after determining its involvement in facilitating illegal transfers to at least eight ransomware groups.

According to Chainalysis, which allegedly assisted the US in the investigation of the Russian-based broker, SueX was revealed to have received “over $160 million from ransomware actors, scammers and darknet market operators”.

The company found that Suex made $13 million from ransomware operators such as ryuko And Maze Both of them have been linked by the US government to criminal groups based in Russia.

Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Ademo said the sanctions were part of the administration’s overall government effort to combat cybercrime and “will serve to destroy and deter these criminals by going after their financial backers.”

Hoffman argued that Biden should take a more aggressive approach to deter cybercriminals and pointed to the 2018 attack by the Trump administration on a Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency.

“Now, they don’t want to go to war with these hackers, because the hackers will strike back and attack us,” he said.

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But the former CIA Moscow station chief said the administration needed to take a more aggressive approach and stop “defending us at the point of attack.”

“You also have to commit crimes – as President Bush liked to say about terrorists, you have to fight the enemy,” he said.

Brooke Singman contributed to this report.


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