Just when you thought the Biden administration’s foreign policy couldn’t get any ditzier, it leaves heartland America vulnerable to attack.
Let’s turn back the clock to June, when President Joe Biden said he gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a list of 16 critical infrastructure entities to ensure they would not be the target of cyberattacks.
“We’ll find out whether we have a cybersecurity arrangement that begins to bring some order,” Biden said, according to Fox Business.
“I looked at him. I said, ‘How would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields?’ He said, ‘It would matter.’ This is not about just our self-interest,” Biden added.
According to Fox, the off-limits sectors included energy, health care and government. Another was food and agriculture, any attack on which would directly hurt rural America.
Fast forward to this week, when the Iowa-based farming co-op New Cooperative was compromised by the Russian hacking group BlackMatter.
According to The Washington Post, BlackMatter threatened to release sensitive company information unless the organization coughed up $5.9 million.
“We are critical infrastructure … intertwined with the food supply chain in the US,” a representative of New Cooperative told BlackMatter, according to Ars Technica. “If we are not able to recover very shortly, there is going to be very very public disruption to the grain, pork, and chicken supply chain.”
Thankfully, New Cooperative now has the threat under control and has developed solutions to continue operating; however, major concerns remain.
“This event wasn’t long enough to cause a change in the commodity price, but certainly it will have ramifications in terms of the food supply system,” Iowa State University professor Bobby J. Martens said, according to the Washington Post.
“If they do it to this company, they could do it to one of the majors. They can block the food chain. They attacked in the heartland of all agriculture. It’s a new form of terrorism.”
Cyber warfare is the atomic bomb of the 21st century. Hackers in Moscow or Beijing could send the U.S. or another Western nation into chaos in minutes.
This cyberattack was relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but the consequences fell on the backs of hard-working Americans in the agriculture industry and the consumers who rely on them.
And the next one could be much worse.
Instead of going soft on Russia, Biden needs to clamp down on cyber threats from our adversaries in the public and private sector.
Foreign relations with Russia might seem irrelevant to the average American, but let this hack serve as an important lesson: It matters who stands between us and our enemies.
The very food in our cupboards could depend on it.
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