Food firms advised to boost cyber security after attack

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Food and drink firms have been advised to step up cyber security
Food and drink firms have been advised to step up cyber security

Related tags: Computer

Food and drink manufacturers have been advised to improve their computer system security, after last month’s ransomware virus attacks, which crippled more than 200,000 computers worldwide.

Cyber security firm ProofPoint, which helped to kill the WannaCry virus that “brought the National Health Service to its knees”,​ warned that similar attacks could also hit food companies. Manufacturers would be susceptible to more advanced viruses that are out there, the company suggested.

“[WannaCry] was relatively unsophisticated, seeing as it included a kill switch​,” said Rob Holmes, ProofPoint’s vice-president of products. “Food manufacturers are not unique. They are susceptible to the same threats as everyone else.”

More damaging viruses

To make matters worse, more damaging viruses than WannaCry were being developed, warned law firm DWF, which advised food manufacturers to adopt precautions, including putting risk management strategies in place.

“How a company reports its response to a cyber-security incident can have a lasting impact on its reputation, so applying appropriate thought and care to how, and when, such an incident is communicated is a must,”​ said DWF.

Communication between IT and production departments was essential in helping food companies protect themselves against cyber attacks, said supervisory control and data acquisitions provider Products4Automation (P4A).

Delegating clear lines of security responsibility, regular audits and software improvement plans were also key to preventing viruses, malware, and the latest global threat, ransomware, P4A advised.

‘Preventing the risks presented by cyber crime’

“Familiarity with the monitoring and control systems utilised in a food and beverage production facility can go a long way to preventing the risks presented by cyber crime,”​ said P4A’s director Paul Hurst.

His comments came after the WannaCry ransomware virus encrypted data in more than 200,000 computers globally between May 12 and 14.

“Keeping systems up to date is another key factor,”​ he added. “Older devices and software packages become more vulnerable as time passes.”

Related topics: IT

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