- Dole was recently hit by ransomware, the company said Wednesday, but the incident had a limited impact on its operations.
- The company released the statement following a CNN report saying Dole had to temporarily shut down food production plants in North America and suspend food shipments to grocers, citing a company memo sent to grocery stores.
- In the statement, Dole said it quickly moved to contain the threat and brought in third-party cybersecurity experts to help Dole’s internal team remediate the issue and secure the company’s systems. Dole notified law enforcement and is cooperating with the investigation into the ransomware incident.
Dole is one of the largest produce companies in the world and bases its North America operations in Charlotte, North Carolina. The creation of the Dublin-based company follows the 2021 merger of Dole Food and Total Produce.
Grocers have complained in various Facebook posts about not having Dole salad kits on the shelves, according to CNN.
When asked whether Dole disclosed the incident to government regulators, a spokesperson for the company said there would be no comment beyond the official statement released on Wednesday.
The food industry has been the target of heightened threat activity in recent years. Dragos is currently aware of multiple threats against various food and beverage entities involving ransomware variants using ICS Cyber Kill Chain Stage 1.
The threats are seen as more opportunistic than specific, according to Abdulrahman Alamri, senior adversary hunter at Dragos.
“Despite the noticeable increase in ransomware incidents in certain industrial sectors, Dragos assesses with moderate confidence that ransomware groups are not explicitly targeting this sector, but rather going after the targets for which they have the opportunity and capability to impact,” Alamri said via email.
A 2021 ransomware attack against meat producer JBS USA resulted in the payment of an $11 million ransom. Several grain cooperatives were also hit by ransomware in the fall of 2021.
Just two months ago, the FBI issued an advisory with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration regarding the use of business email compromise to steal food and ingredients shipments. Criminal actors impersonated legitimate employees using spoofed emails and domains and then ordered goods that were later resold.
FBI officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.