Hackers target Quebec ag organization

Hackers target Quebec ag organization
Aug 11, 2022

The Union des producteurs agricoles is experiencing a ransomware attack

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Cyber criminals have recently targeted an ag organization in Quebec.

Hackers launched a ransomware attack on the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) on Sunday.

Ransomware works by locking users out of their computer networks. Hackers then ask for a payment before giving back access.

The hackers accessed the UPA’s computer system “and paralyzed the network,” Charles-Félix Ross, the organization’s general manager, told the Montreal Gazette. “They are demanding a ransom in exchange for a decryption key.”

Around 160 UPA employees and 23 client organizations are locked out of the UPA’s network, but there’s no direct affect to producers.

This isn’t the first time hackers have carried out cyberattacks on the Canadian ag sector.

In June 2021, the JBS processing facility in Brooks, Alta. was forced to close its doors to its nearly 3,000 employees due to a cyber attack that also affected meat processing plants in the United States and Australia.

Prior to that attack, the federal government announced investments to help protect Canada’s ag sector from cyberattacks.

In March 2021, then minister of public safety and emergency preparedness Bill Blair announced more than $500,000 over four years to the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance for its Cyber Security Capacity in Canadian Agriculture project.

"Canadian agriculture is a critical and increasingly interconnected service, and it is a key part of our economy, trade, and food supply,” he said in a March 2021 statement. “This funding to the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance for their Cyber Security Capacity in Canadian Agriculture project will help foster collaboration and protect cyber systems from compromise."

Following a series of cyberattacks on Canadian and U.S. agribusinesses in 2021, Farms.com spoke with an IT manager to discuss how businesses can protect themselves from digital security breaches.

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