Cyber crime in the food industry: the 3 biggest risks

Cyber crime is everywhere these days, also in the food industry. This was evidenced by last year's worldwide Petya attack, which caused considerable damage to certain food products. But what exactly are the biggest cyber risks in the food industry? And how can food companies protect themselves against these? Vanbreda experts Ronny Kamermans and Gerrit Mets are happy to explain it to you.

Cyber crime in the food industry: the 3 biggest risks

The Vanbreda Risk & Benefits annual Cyber Survey revealed that over 10% of the companies surveyed were victims of a cyber attack in 2018. The food industry, which represents a majority of the respondents, is also not immune to the dangers of cyber criminals who are becoming increasingly more professional. The consequences of their actions are often dramatic: business interruption, financial losses and reputation damage are merely a few of the consequences that hacked firms are confronted with.

As a firm, you can mitigate the threat of cyber risks by taking the necessary preventive measures, such as increasing awareness among staff and the heightened security of your IT infrastructure. “But despite the many investments and efforts, every firm still faces a residual risk. Together, we can assess this for you so that we can provide coverage with the right cyber policy”, says Ronny Kamermans, insurance expert for the food industry.

Cyber risk 1: business interruption after hacking

Today, IT is an integral part of the structure of virtually every company. A hacking of this infrastructure, causing the entire firm to come to a standstill, is every business manager’s nightmare. Gerrit Mets, Vanbreda cyber expert: “The IT infrastructure that controls the production chains in the food industry is especially vulnerable to cyber crime. This is because it has been designed for the purpose of continuity rather than focusing on security. Yet today, the control and maintenance of machines is still often carried out online by the suppliers of these machines. This results in external links being created between the production line(s) of food companies and the Internet and because of the absence of sufficient security mechanisms, it makes these firms extremely vulnerable.”

Solution within the cyber policy: the financial damage that a firm suffers as a result of a business interruption caused by hacking is insured. With this policy, you have access to IT, PR and legal experts who can help you get the crisis under control as quickly as possible.

Cyber risk 2: theft of sensitive images

Today, any firm can fall victim to the theft of images (from, for example, a camera or webcam) and the unwanted distribution of these images on the Internet and social media. Gerrit Mets: “The food industry, and especially the meat sector, is closely monitored by public opinion and can ill afford bad press.”

Solution within the cyber policy: the PR costs made for the recovery of the company reputation after a data breach has occurred due to misuse of the existing infrastructure (for example, a webcam of the slaughterhouse) are covered by the cyber policy.

Cyber risk 3: heavy fines as a result of GDPR legislation

The new European legislation (GDPR) imposes guidelines on firms concerning the management and processing of personal data. This legislation requires firms to be even more cautious and to handle this data with due diligence. Gerrit Mets: “Firms that violate the new European legislation risk fines of up to EUR 20 million or 4% of the company turnover. These fines form a new risk for executives. In case of a data breach, the GDPR also requires the notification of all those affected. The costs of such a notification campaign could really run high.”

Solution within the cyber policy: the administrative fines are covered by the cyber policy, as are the costs made in informing the victims of a data breach about the loss of their personal data.

We are there for you.

We are happy to prepare a bespoke proposal for cyber insurance that suits your firm. To make sure this insurance solution is a good fit, we would like to have a clear picture of how your firm currently protects itself against cyber crime. You can consult the questionnaire here. Please send the completed questionnaire to so that we can provide you with a suitable proposal.

For more information, please call us on +32 (0)3 292 00 13 or contact us via e-mail at

Subscribe to our newsletter.