Dole Food Company, a leading global supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables, has acknowledged that the ransomware attack it suffered in February 2023 led to unauthorized access to employee information. The company employs around 38,000 people worldwide and serves customers in over 75 countries.
In its annual report submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday, Dole disclosed that the cyberattack directly impacted employee data. “In February of 2023, we were the victim of a sophisticated ransomware attack involving unauthorized access to employee information,” the company stated in the filing.
Upon discovering the breach, Dole quickly implemented measures to contain the attack, sought the expertise of third-party cybersecurity professionals, and informed law enforcement agencies. The company first revealed the ransomware attack on February 22, asserting that it had minimal impact on its operations.
However, the attack came to light after customers reported delays and unavailability of Dole products in stores for over a week. A memo from Texan Stewart’s grocery store leaked online, informing American retailers that Dole had activated its crisis management protocol, including a “Manual Backup Program.”
The implementation of the Manual Backup Program likely signified a return to manual operations, allowing the company to resume production and shipments, albeit at a slower pace. “All our businesses are implementing our Crisis Management Protocol to resume ‘business as usual’ post haste, inclusive of our Manual Backup Program if needed. Please bear with us as we navigate our way and hopefully, we will minimize this event,” Dole announced.
Despite claiming the ransomware attack’s limited effects, Dole was compelled to temporarily shut down production plants across North America. The leaked memo stated, “Dole Food Company is in the midst of a cyberattack, and [we] have subsequently shut down our systems throughout North America. Our plants are shut down for the day, and all shipments are on hold.”