Cold storage giant Americold hit by cyber attack, operations impacted

Americold, the world's largest owner and operator of temperature-controlled warehouses, has admitted to suffering a cyber security incident that forced it to take urgent steps and engage cyber security experts to contain it.

The Atlanta-based realty trust owns and operates as many as 183 temperature-controlled warehouses in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Argentina. The firm's warehouses are an integral component of the supply chain connecting food producers, processors, distributors, and retailers to consumers, rendering its services critical for many industries.

Earlier this week, Americold disclosed in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that its computer network was affected by a cyber security incident and that it is doing everything possible to contain the fallout of the incident.

"On November 16, 2020, Americold Realty Trust determined that its computer network was affected by a cybersecurity incident. As a precautionary measure, the Company took immediate steps to help contain the incident and implemented business continuity plans, where appropriate, to continue ongoing operations. The Company has notified and is working closely with law enforcement, cybersecurity experts, and legal counsel.

"Security, in all its forms, remains a top priority at Americold, and the Company will continue to seek to take all appropriate measures to further safeguard the integrity of its information technology infrastructure, data and customer information," the firm said.

While the firm has remained tight-lipped about the cyber incident otherwise, Bleeping Computer has learned that the cyber attack targeting Americold has impacted "numerous systems, including phone, email, order fulfillment, and inventory management," which indicates that the cold storage giant is unable to service customers at present.

The news site also learned from "numerous sources" that Americold suffered a ransomware attack but the nature and intensity of the attack are not known yet. We expect Americold to issue a detailed statement about the incident shortly to dispel any rumours and to enable customers across the world to understand the real impact of the cyber attack and whether their data is secure.

According to Andrea Carcano, co-founder of Nozomi Networks, the attack against Americold highlights a concerning trend of attackers targeting larger and more critical organisations. These threats should be a serious concern for security professionals responsible for keeping not only IT but OT and IoT networks safe.

"In the manufacturing business, time is money, so the disruption of IT services as well as manufacturing downtime and shipment delays, translates to lost revenue. The proliferation and complexity of attacks signify the growing need for organisations to take the necessary steps to secure their systems. Businesses should deploy artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that can help identify cyber threats in real-time and resolve issues before harm is done.

"With the right technology and a focus on best practices, you can increase visibility and operational resiliency. We know from working with thousands of industrial installations that you can monitor and mitigate these risks, whether they stem from cybercriminals, nation-states, or employees. It’s a daunting task, but not impossible. A robust cyber defense strategy is the best line of defense against a cyber attack," he added.

Read More: Swatch Group forced to shut IT systems after detecting a cyber attack

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