No company is safe. That's the blunt warning that came from a new White House memo as the cyber fallout continues after hackers took over a top U.S. meat producer.
There have been four major cyber-attacks against the U.S. in recent weeks, with three of them connected to Russia or China. Experts warn there's likely more to come as businesses are being told to shore up their digital defenses.
The most recent attack happened Wednesday near Cape Cod. Criminals hacked the ferry to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard and demanded ransom just as the summer season picks up.
The FBI now says the JBS food distributor hack last weekend points to criminals in Russia. Meat production is now returning to normal at U.S. plants and officials say food quality was not impacted.
May's Colonial Pipeline hack impacted the entire East Coast, sending fuel prices soaring and prompting shortages and long lines at gas stations. Authorities say Russian hackers were also behind this one.
Also, the nation's largest transit system in New York City is now revealing an attack in April when officials say Chinese hackers penetrated their system with minimal effects.
So the White House issued a clear warning on Thursday saying "all organizations must recognize that no company is safe from being targeted by ransomware, regardless of size or location."
"Business leaders have a responsibility to strengthen their cyber defenses to protect the American public and our economy," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday. "Companies that view ransomware as a threat to their core business operations rather than a simple risk to data theft will react and recover more effectively."
It's a disturbing trend that, while not a new crime, is growing according to experts.
"We've observed or observed evidence of ransomware attacks at over 80 food and beverage companies that led to disruptions from ransomware over the last few years," said John Hultquist, vice president of Mandiant Threat Intelligence. "This problem is escalating and getting increasingly out of hand."
Security officials say cyberwar is now the main warfare, with the potential to be more impactful than any other, and now is not the time to be caught unaware.
"I think the takeaway right now is if you're a corporate executive or a state and local government agency head and you thought that you would be spared, that criminals wouldn't go after you, guess what - they went after our gas and they went after our hot dogs," said Christopher Krebs, former U.S. Cybersecurity Director. "No one is out of bounds here."
While the president signed an executive order laying out new cyber defense plans last month, the White House adds private businesses must take steps of their own.
Biden is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month where the issue of bad actors in Russia attacking America is sure to be addressed.