Dole Lettuce Ransomware Attack

Dole's North American Operations Shut Down By Ransomware Attack

Feb. 23, 2023
Ransomware seems popular among manufacturers...

Okay, Mother Nature, not Dole, actually manufactures the produce. Dole processes, bags and ships it. But here's another example of a hack so big that it shut down plants in North America and is precisely what cybersecurity experts are warning manufacturers about.

Dole's pre-cut and mixed salad kit lines can occupy enough grocery store real estate as to make the kits' absence from shelves glaring. This is what happened for customers in New Mexico and Texas according to a story yesterday from CNN, because Dole's computer systems got hacked in early February and the company is dealing with a ransomware attack.

The number of annual cybersecurity reports highlighting the threat of ransomware to manufacturers are legion. (Check out this week's So That Happened article for a link to a new report from OT cybersecurity firm Dragos that shows just how often ransomware attacks target the manufacturing sector.) In this case, the ransomware attack was successful enough to shut down production in North America and put all shipments on hold, according to reporting from Bleeping Computer.

"Unfortunately, even now people still have a diluted perspective on ransomware. There is enough out there on what it is, how it works, and a massive push to 'stop' it, but we never solved the foundational problems that make it possible," says Jeannie Warner from cybersecurity provider Exabeam.

"Ransomware is a missed intrusion, period. The attacks are only possible because of a weakness in an environment that begins with or later involves compromised credentials. If you unsuccessfully manage intrusions, you will eventually fall victim to ransomware," she continues.

According to CNN, Dole shut down its computer systems to mitigate the spread of the malicious software. The company issued a press release Wednesday afternoon disclosing the attack and reporting the engagement of third-party cybersecurity experts to secure Dole's systems. The company also said impact to operations was limited.

In other words, hopefully those customers in New Mexico and Texas didn't have to chop their own lettuce for too long.

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