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Wiltshire Farm Foods attacked by ransomware hackers


One of the country’s leading makers of ready meals has been hit by a suspected ransomware attack, grinding the business to a halt.

Wiltshire Farm Foods, which is owned by the massive Apetito brand, was cyber-hacked at the weekend.

According to one report, it was so severe that the firm was unable to inform its customers of the problem and that deliveries would not be made.

Much of the food made by Apetito is consumed in hospitals, nursing homes, children’s nurseries and other institution with vulnerable clients.

It is the latest in a series of recent cyberattacks

Last week, it emerged a hacking incident on delivery giant Yodel had caused delays in package delivery and disrupted online order tracking.

Back in February, food manufacturer, KP Snacks, was the target of a ransomware attack.

In 2021, Brazil-based meat-packing giant JBS was hit with an attack that targeted the company’s servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems.

Wiltshire Farm Foods confirmed it as the victim of a cyberattack on Monday, leading to its computer systems crashing.

The company was unable to see what customers had ordered or their addresses, and had to temporarily halt deliveries.

A statement said: “We are very sorry to say that Wiltshire Farm Foods is currently experiencing severe difficulties with our computer systems. These problems have been caused by what is known as a ‘cyber attack’.

“If you are expecting a delivery this week, please contact your local depot. Unfortunately, as our systems are not currently working, we will be unable to make many deliveries in the next few days. We are also unable to contact customers personally as we do not have access to their telephone numbers.

“We are doing everything we can to recover from this situation as soon as possible. Where we are able to take orders, we are only offering deliveries from Monday 4 July by which time we hope to be back up and running. We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this problem will cause our customers,” the statement added.

A significant market for Wiltshire Farm Foods is a “meals on wheels” service to the old and vulnerable , who benefit from the firm’s offer of free home delivery and the relatively simple preparation steps the meals required. It is a major cause for concern if this slice of the population is left without their usual delivery of meals for several days.

According to one report, Wiltshire is ‘confident’ that the hackers weren’t able to access payment card information, because it does not store such data on its systems.

A senior Apetito executive said that multiple crisis meetings are taking place each day to sort the problem out.

The company is also seeking find out if any identifiable information has been compromised and is working with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), according to a website.

Customers who are anticipating a delivery this week have been urged to get in touch with their local depot, because Wiltshire can’t see that information.

The firm admits it will be unable to complete a ‘significant’ number of deliveries in the coming days.

A statement added: “Where we are able to take orders, we are only offering deliveries from Monday 4th July by which time we hope to be back up and running.”

Parent company Apetito also said it had been the victim of a ‘highly sophisticated’ cyber-attack that compromised its ‘extensive IT security systems’.

‘Our Crisis Management and IT teams (assisted by specialist external partners) are working all hours to bring critical systems back into operation as soon as possible,’ it said [pdf].

Attacks of this type are becoming more prevalent in both the private and public sectors, as hackers try to extort money from victims.

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