Food and drink ‘must take global cyber attack seriously’

Food and drink manufacturers 'should take cyber-crime seriously'

The weekend’s global cyber attack, which struck dozens of National Health Service (NHS) trusts, should act as a wake-up call for food and drink manufacturers to take internet security seriously, warn industry representatives.

The threat of cyber crime was a major barrier to manufacturing growth, said EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation. The “indiscriminate nature of the attack” showed both big and small businesses were vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which would cause data, intellectual property and reputation to be lost. The comments came after the WannaCry ransomware cyber-attack hit more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries since Friday.

Businesses must take appropriate steps to protect themselves – including backing-up all data, and not clicking on suspicious emails – EEF said. The government should also provide policy and legislation to facilitate cyber protection, it added.

‘Ignored the growing threat’

Andy Collier, director of NDI – an EEF divison – said: “For too long companies have ignored the growing threat posed by cyber attacks, which are not just related to big organisations or space-age operations but businesses of all sizes.

“Any company that uses data and has internet connectivity is potentially vulnerable no matter what sector they operate within, and this includes large, sophisticated and high profile enterprises across food and drink, defence and automotive. This incident will hopefully act as a wake-up call for businesses to take cyber security seriously and treat it like any other critical business risk.”

Cyber defence must become a top priority for all businesses, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

‘Awareness to action’

A CBI spokeswoman said: “As companies tackle the challenge of moving from awareness to action, they need to ensure that they are proactively assessing their cyber risk and taking robust protective action to safeguard their finances, intellectual property, customer data and brand.

“CBI will continue to support companies to work together, building the skills and staff training required to defend against increasing cyber threats, and using the experiences and expertise from both the public and private sector.”

The ransomware – a virus that threatens to destroy computer files unless a payment is made – has disrupted 61 NHS organisations in the UK since Friday. US delivery company FedEx was also affected by the ransomware, as well as 1,000 Russian computers and Spanish telecoms and gas companies.

Global cyber attack – at a glance
  • Food and drink manufacturers ‘must take cyber-threat seriously’
  • Cyber resilience must be top priority
  • Cyber crime can destroy data, reputation and intellectual property

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