Iowa State University professor says impact of New Co-op ransomware attack may be lost confidence

FORT DODGE — A Fort Dodge-based farmers association took its systems offline after being hit by a ransomware attack, and officials with New Cooperative now says the hack was “successfully contained.”

Iowa State University electrical and computer engineering professor Doug Jacobson says an attack like this can shake farmers’ sense of security.  “Any organization that’s in possession of data, potentially the farmer data, if that data is lost or there’s a potential for that data to get leaked, the farmers or the people who use that data may lose confidence in that organization’s ability to keep their data safe.”

Jacobson says though the food system is fairly well distributed, it’s still vulnerable to attacks. He says the lasting reach of the hack remains unknown. “There’s always a potential impact,” he says. “Some of it’s confidence. A place like a cooperative holds a lot of farmer data. It’s unclear how much of that data may have been compromised.”

Jacobson says the food system is not highly interconnected like the power grid, and a co-op can move more easily to pen and paper, unlike a hospital. In May, the world’s largest meat processor, J-B-S, was hacked and had to temporarily shut down.

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