A sophisticated cyber-attack has targeted the world’s largest meat processing industry.
JBS computer networks were hacked and some operations in Australia, Canada, and the US were briefly shut down, affecting thousands of workers.
The company is of the opinion that the ransomware attack was committed by a criminal group probably based in Russia, the White House stated.
The attack could lead to meat shortages or to higher consumer costs.
In a ransomware attack, hackers enter a computer network and threaten to disrupt or delete files unless a ransom is paid.
The FBI is investigating the attack, according to the White House.
“JBS informed [the White House] that the claim was made by a criminal organization that was likely based in Russia,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, a white house spokesperson, on Tuesday.
“The White House is directly engaged in this problem with the Russian Government and sends out that responsible states are not carrying ransomware criminals,” she continued.
Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov of Russia announced on Wednesday in local media that Moscow was in communication with the Biden administration to discuss the cyber-attack.
JBS: From regional player to multinational
- JBS is the largest supplier of beef in the world with over 150 factories in 15 countries.
- It was founded by rancher José Batista Sobrinho in Brazil in 1953.
- The corporation presently employs over 150,000 people worldwide.
- Its customers include supermarkets and McDonald’s fast-food outlets.
- In the United States, JBS processes about a quarter of the country’s beef and a fifth of its pork
JBS claimed that it has “significantly progressed” in fixing the cyber assault and expects that the great majority of its facilities on Wednesday will be functioning.
On Monday, the company stated it paused all IT systems that were affected when the incident was detected and its backup servers were not hacked.
The United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union, representing JBS staff, urges the company to ensure that employees are still paid.
In modern meat processing operations, IT systems are vital, with computers used in numerous stages, including billing and shipping.
According to Beef Central, a trade group, “supermarkets and other large end-users like the McDonald’s burgers distribution network, because of their need for constant supply, will be among the most directly affected customers.”
JBS’s five largest beef factories are in the US, with shutdowns stopping a fifth of meat production, according to Bloomberg.
Plants were also damaged in Australia and Canada, while South American operations were not hampered.
Last month, the supply of fuel to the southeast of the U.S. was hampered for several days following a Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. Investigators also allege that the incident was related to a group with Russian ties.
The Colonial Pipeline has acknowledged that it has paid a $4.4m (€3.1m) ransom to the responsible cybercriminals.
In the past, the US government has suggested that firms do not pay criminals for ransomware attacks, in case they encourage future hacks.
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