January 22, 2022

Food Giant ADM Is Shoring Up Defenses Against Hack Attempts, CEO Says

Agriculture company Archer Daniels Midland Co. is shoring up defenses against what it views as inevitable cyberattacks, its chief executive said.

Chicago-based ADM has formed a ransomware task force and is running drills as incursions against food and agriculture companies have surged in recent years, including an attack in late May on meatpacking giant JBS SA.

“We always do these exercises, where we assume we will be a target,” said Juan Luciano, ADM’s chief executive, speaking Thursday at The Wall Street Journal’s Global Food Forum.

Agricultural companies such as ADM, one of the world’s largest crop traders and processors, are deepening investments in technology as the U.S. farm sector goes digital. Farmers are incorporating data-driven planting and harvesting systems, while crop buyers like ADM, Cargill and others beam prices to farmers’ phones and automate grain delivery operations.

Cybersecurity specialists said the agricultural-technology revolution has created new risks for the farm sector and the U.S. food system. There were 600% more data breaches last year among U.S. agricultural companies compared with 2019, according to risk-consulting firm Kroll LLC, and 2021 is on pace to show another annual increase, according to the firm’s case data. One farm equipment distributor had to notify tens of thousands of customers following a recent network breach, the firm said.

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