‘Cyber event’ knocks dairy giant Schreiber Foods offline amid industry ransomware outbreak

It's the latest in a string of cyber incidents hitting the food and agriculture sector.
Herd of bullocks standing outside, looking at the camera from a low viewpoint. (Getty Images)

A “cyber event” knocked plants and distribution centers offline at Schreiber Foods, a multibillion-dollar dairy company, a spokesperson told CyberScoop Wednesday.

The incident began affecting operations Friday evening, according Schreiber Foods’ Andrew Tobisch. “We began the process of bringing our plants and distribution centers back up late Monday,” he said.

Tobisch would not answer whether the “cyber event” was a ransomware attack, as one news outlet reported.

Nonetheless, it marks the latest incident afflicting the food and agriculture sector, a trend that has drawn attention from U.S. national security agencies in recent months. The May ransomware attack on meat supplier JBS, in which the firm paid an $11 million extortion fee, was the most prominent, followed by attacks on two grain cooperatives. Attackers hit Iowa-based New Cooperative in September, demanding $5.9 million, and Crystal Valley Cooperative, a Minnesota agriculture supplier.


That series of events triggered an FBI private industry notice, then a joint warning about the BlackMatter ransomware gang’s attacks on critical infrastructure from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Security Agency. Hackers also hit U.S. candy-maker Ferrera Candy with ransomware in October, just weeks prior to Halloween.

Schreiber Foods claims $5 billion in annual sales and 8,000 employees. It bills itself as a “customer-brand leader in cream cheese, natural cheese, process cheese, shelf-stable beverages and yogurts.”

Tobisch said the company acted quickly to respond to the incident.

“We immediately mobilized our specialized response team,” he said via email. “That team has done an excellent job of restoring and rebuilding our systems.”

The Wisconsin State Farmer reported that ransomware attackers sought $2.5 million from Schreiber Foods. Tobisch would not say whether the company has paid a ransom when asked, saying only that “We don’t want to get into specifics.”

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