World’s Largest Beef and Pork Supplier Hit by Cyber Attack

The northern Australian offices of JBS Foods is seen during sunset in Dinmore, west of Brisbane, on June 1, 2021.

The northern Australian offices of JBS Foods is seen during sunset in Dinmore, west of Brisbane, on June 1, 2021.
Photo: Patrick Hamilton (Getty Images)

JB Foods, the world’s largest beef and pork processor, was hit by a cyber attack on Sunday that’s incapacitated systems in the U.S., Canada, and Australia according to a new report from Bloomberg News.

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The global food giant hasn’t shared what kind of cyberattack it’s been hit with, but large global operations like this are often struck with ransomware, an attack that most commonly involves hackers stealing data, deleting it locally from a company’s servers, and demanding payment for the return of the data.

Another style of ransomware attack can involve hackers stealing sensitive data and threatening to release it publicly unless the ransom is paid. JB is keeping mum, but the company says its backup servers are fine and it’s working on getting back up and running.

As the Australia-based news outlet Beef Central notes, modern meat processing plants are heavily reliant on computers to keep their systems running. And while JBS hasn’t shared details about the attack, Beef Central says there are a lot of obvious questions about what’s going to happen to animal carcasses that will start to pile up.

Beef Central obtained a statement from JBS:

On Sunday, May 30, JBS USA determined that it was the target of an organised cybersecurity attack, affecting some of the servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems. The company took immediate action, suspending all affected systems, notifying authorities and activating the company’s global network of IT professionals and third-party experts to resolve the situation. The company’s backup servers were not affected, and it is actively working with an Incident Response firm to restore its systems as soon as possible.

The company is not aware of any evidence at this time that any customer, supplier or employee data has been compromised or misused as a result of the situation. Resolution of the incident will take time, which may delay certain transactions with customers and suppliers.

It’s too soon to tell what kind of impact the cyberattack might have on consumers, but the sheer volume of meat processed by JBS in North America and Australia is staggering.

As Bloomberg points out, one JBS beef plant in Brooks, Alberta accounts for roughly a quarter of Canada’s entire beef production. The plant is currently offline. JBS is Australia’s largest beef, pork, and lamb processor, though roughly 70% of those products are shipped overseas, according to Bloomberg. All operations in Australia have also stopped and it’s not clear when they’ll get back online.

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The publisher of Beef Central told Australia’s ABC News that it’s anyone’s guess when things could return to normal.

“It could be a day, it could be a week, it could be multiple weeks,” Beef Central’s Jon Condon said. “The longer it goes, the worse the situation in terms of supply and disruption”

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