Hack at logistics service provider causes cheese shortage for grocery retailer Albert Heijn

A ransomware attack on Dutch logistics service provider Bakker Logistics disrupted deliveries of pre-packed cheese to grocery retailer Albert Heijn. Due to the hack, half of the logistics company’s trucks – around 250 drivers – could not even take to the road. The other half could set off on their journeys, but they were unable to supply all the supermarkets. This resulted in empty shelves in some stores.

Bakker Logistics was hacked over the Easter weekend, bringing deliveries from its distribution centres in Zeewolde, Tilburg and Heerenveen to a standstill. The company was no longer able to receive orders from customers, and it also had no visibility into which products were where in the warehouses. Moreover, the hack disrupted the transport planning, according to Director Toon Verhoeven in an interview with the Dutch news broadcaster NOS.

Ransomware attack

Verhoeven confirmed that it was a ransomware attack. In such attacks, computer systems are ‘held hostage’ by encrypting them and hackers only give access to the systems again once a ransom has been paid. Verhoeven was not willing to comment on whether Bakker actually paid a ransom, but he did confirm that the company had reported the incident to the police. It took a specialized security company several days to get the computer systems up and running again.

As soon as the grounded trucks were back in operation, the company entered into dialogue with customers to resume deliveries as quickly as possible. According to Verhoeven, the backlog was expected to be cleared within a week, so the hack was unlikely to lead to a major shortage of cheese products or other groceries. Albert Heijn itself also took measures to limit the shortages, such as temporarily arranging for stores to be replenished from other distribution centres.

Cybercrime increasingly commonplace

This incident is yet another illustration that cybercrime is becoming increasingly commonplace. In fact, globally it is now seen as the greatest risk to business operations, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2020. In another Dutch example, logistics service provider Janssen Logistics fell victim to hackers in late 2020. The company was unable to access its own computer network, but narrowly escaped having to pay a ransom of €50,000.