What You Should Know About the JBS Ransomware Attack

Meat eaters be wary! This past Tuesday, JBS, considered the world’s largest meat processing company, disclosed that it had suffered a ransomware attack, effectively halting meat production across the US, Canada, and Australia. While we don’t have a clear indication as to who is behind the cyberattack, White House Officials are currently pointing the finger towards Russian-based hackers.

But what exactly happened to JBS? Who is responsible? And does this mean for the prices of your daily produce? Keep reading to find out more.

An image of a cow, relating to a recent ransomware attack on Brazil’s JBS, considered the world’s largest meat processing company. It effectively halted production across the US, Canada, and Australia.

What Happened?

Brazilian company JBS is the world’s largest meat processing company – with more than 150 plants in 15 different countries, the company is one of the main suppliers of meat and produce across North America.

Just last Tuesday the White House confirmed that JBS’s computer networks had been involved in a ransomware attack, which prompted the company to effectively shutdown nine of its beef plants in the United States, as well as halt the production of poultry and pork plants across the country. While union officials claim that the cyberattack had only caused a temporary shutdown of operations, even a day’s disruption could significantly impact the nation’s meat markets.

In a briefing made from the White House, officials are currently pointing the finger towards Russian-based cybercriminals. Although it’s difficult to verify who is directly responsible, the White House claims to be engaging directly with the Russian government regarding the situation, and plans to deliver the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.

This isn’t the first time American industries have been hit by Russian ransomware. Just last month, cybercriminal gang DarkSide had hit the Colonial Pipeline with a critical cyberattack. Similarly to the recent JBS cyberattack, Colonial Pipeline was forced to halt its operations, triggering gas shortages and panic buying across the East Coast.

Ransomware is a form of malware used to lock up a user’s computer, demanding large sums money to decrypt files and give victims’ control of their system once again. Although anyone can fall victim to ransomware, typically cybercriminals attack large-scale companies in hopes of extorting massive sums of money.

An image of the White House because although it's difficult to verify who is directly responsible, the White House claims to be engaging directly with the Russian government regarding the situation, and plans to deliver the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.

What Does This Mean For Produce Distribution?

Since the attack was initially announced, JBS has said that it was actively looking into resolving the cyberattack and resuming its operations. However, despite working to mitigate the effects of the attack, analysts expect to see a significant change in the meat supply in North America

In a report released on Tuesday, an analyst for the Daily Livestock Report wrote:

“Retailers and beef processors are coming from a long weekend and need to catch up with orders and make sure to fill the meat case.

If they suddenly get a call saying that product may not deliver tomorrow or this week, it will create very significant challenges in keeping plants in operation and the retail case stocked up.”

2021 Steiner Consulting Group

Further research indicates that the disruption in production will cause major issues down the line for produce supply in North America, causing the wholesale market to tighten up throughout the upcoming months.

What Now?

JBS has said that it was the target of an “organized cybersecurity attack”, affected systems in North America and Australia, however it has reassured that its backup servers were not affected and that it did not expect that any customer, supplier or employee data was exposed.

As cyberattacks continue to affect the US, it’s important to stay up to date on your cybersecurity skills. Check out our article on ransomware if you want to learn more. Remember to always keep your computer clean of malware by running a FixMeStick scan every single month and regularly back up your files.

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