- The International Dairy Foods Association said Tuesday it will begin working with a food-focused cybersecurity group to share cyber threat information and bolster its defenses from attacks.
- The association’s new partnership with the Food and Agriculture - Information Sharing Analysis Center will mitigate cybersecurity threats through enhanced education efforts, hosting webinars and offering resources to improve awareness across the dairy sector.
- Cyber crimes against food companies have increased in recent years, pressuring industry leaders to share intelligence, threat analysis and risk management practices to protect their businesses. Attacks can vary in scope from mild data breaches to widespread computer meltdowns.
At least three major cyber attacks have affected dairy businesses in recent years, resulting in significant costs and disruptions. The strikes also can pose a risk to personnel and food safety.
In 2022, Massachusetts-based HP Hood Dairy temporarily closed 13 dairy plants, disposed of some products and warned customers of delivery delays due to a cyber attack, the Boston Globe reported. An attack against Schreiber Foods briefly led to a nationwide shortage of cream cheese, Bloomberg reported.
Cyber attacks on average cost more than $1 million to resolve, according to the World Economic Forum. Factoring in production delays, reputational damages, loss of customers and stock hits, longer-term effects can increase costs for dairy businesses.
To deal with these threats, IDFA said it will expand on its cybersecurity work with partner Food and Ag-ISAC to provide association members with briefings and resources that can help them bolster defenses against attacks.
Industry leaders such as Cargill, Bunge, Tyson Foods, Hershey and others are members of Food and Ag-ISAC, an offshoot of nonprofit IT-ISAC that began operating independently earlier this year. Members of IDFA include Danone, Nestle and other businesses from all segments of the dairy industry.
“It is clear that cyber criminals have a spotlight on dairy companies,” Michael Dykes, president and CEO, said in a statement. “We need to look to always stay two steps ahead of these actors, and we can do that if we work together, share information, and share best practices for thwarting efforts to disrupt our businesses.”
As advancements in technology continue and industries become more reliant on automation and technology to improve everyday operations, food companies are opening themselves up to cyber risks and vulnerabilities.
“Given the interconnected nature of the food and agriculture industry, maintaining a safe, secure and resilient farm-to-table supply chain depends on individual decisions of countless companies,” Scott Algeier, executive director of the Food and Ag-ISAC, said in a statement.