World’s largest meat supplier hit by cyber attack

2 June 2021

JBS Foods, the world’s largest supplier of meat, has been hit by a cyber attack thought to be conducted by Russian organised criminals.

JBS USA said it had determined it was the target of an organised cyber security attack on Sunday 30 May that affected some of the servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems.

The hack caused operations in Australia, Canada and the US to temporarily shut down. According to Bloomberg, the shutdowns have halted a fifth of meat production at JBS’s five largest beef plants in the US. 

On 1 June, the firm said it had made “significant progress” in resolving the cyber attack, and was able to ship product from nearly all of its facilities to supply customers.

“The company also continues to make progress in resuming plant operations in the US and Australia. Several of the company’s pork, poultry and prepared foods plants were operational today and its Canada beef facility resumed production,” it added. 

Andre Nogueira, JBS USA CEO, said: “Our systems are coming back online and we are not sparing any resources to fight this threat. We have cyber security plans in place to address these types of issues and we are successfully executing those plans. 

“Given the progress our IT professionals and plant teams have made in the last 24 hours, the vast majority of our beef, pork, poultry and prepared foods plants will be operational tomorrow.”

JBS added it is “not aware of any evidence at this time that any customer, supplier or employee data has been compromised”. 

In a press briefing Karine Jean-Pierre, principal deputy press secretary for the White House, told reporters a ransom demand “came from a criminal organisation likely based in Russia”. 

She said: “The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.  The FBI is investigating the incident and CISA [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] is coordinating with the FBI to offer technical support to the company in recovering from the ransomware attack.

“We’re assessing any impacts on supply and the president has directed the administration to determine what we can do to mitigate any impacts as they may become necessary. 

“We call on organisations across government and the private sector to take the threat of ransomware seriously and modernise their cyber defenses.”

Last month, a major US oil pipeline was hit by a cyber security attack involving ransomware.

The 5,500 mile-long Colonial pipeline carries 45% of the East Coast’s fuel supplies and travels through 14 southern and eastern US states.

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