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Siegfried, Brenntag, and Symrise Hit by Cyberattacks

Chemical & Engineering News

When hackers gain access to company networks, major real-world disruptions can ensue, as the recent ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline showed. Chemical companies are not immune. Recent cyberattacks on Siegfried, Brenntag, and Symrise forced temporarily halts in manufacturing and other operations while the firms investigated the breaches.


It’s no surprise that chemical firms have been targeted recently, says Sharon Klein, chair of the privacy, security, and data protection practice at Blank Rome, a law firm. The industry’s visibility during the COVID-19 pandemic makes companies targets for foreign governments looking for trade secrets and criminals hoping to make money from companies that may be distracted by their critical mission.

“Cyber gangs follow the money, and they also want to get attention. That helps groups like DarkSide to do business as ransomware for hire,” Klein says. They team up with criminals armed with stolen access credentials to target a firm and split the profits. Abrams reports that the Brenntag heist followed this model.

While hackers have become extremely sophisticated, Klein says, their access methods will be familiar to any office worker. They use so-called phishing e-mails to get an employee to click on a malware link or share sensitive data. Or they exploit spots where companies have been slow to install security updates.

Hacked companies typically shut down plants to buy time to track down and prevent the spread of malware. The process is time-consuming, costly, and potentially dangerous. Cyber thieves can put cloaking software on top of the malware, making the bad code hard to find, Klein notes.

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“Siegfried, Brenntag, and Symrise Hit by Cyberattacks,” by Robert Downen was published in Chemical & Engineering News on May 31, 2021.