Last Updated: January 18, 2022
A recent cyberattack has temporarily shut down nine JBS meat plants, as reported by Bloomberg.
The attack happened on Tuesday when the plants’ system was infiltrated by ransomware—a type of malware that seizes the victim’s data (often threatening to publish it) and requests ransom to return it.
The US meat plants weren’t the only ones affected, as production in Canada and Australia has also been halted.
The culprit is thought to be a Russian hacking group, which is a telling coincidence as a similar attack shut down the Colonial Pipeline not so long ago. Both businesses were ransomware victims, with the latter’s attackers being identified as the Russian criminal group DarkSide. Although DarkSide has supposedly stopped its operation, the possibility of it resurfacing for the JBS attack is plausible.
Luckily, JBS stated that it “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.” The company is working on getting its systems back online, but the disruption (no matter how brief) will have consequences.
Aftermath of the Ransomware Attack
JBS is the world’s largest meat supplier that is in charge of supplying one-fifth of the beef consumed in the US. Although company representatives have stated that the matter will be solved by Wednesday, even a one-day delay significantly impacts the nation’s meat markets by disrupting supply.
Beef prices have already been soaring globally, but the temporarily limited supply caused by this attack will undoubtedly push the prices even higher.
The shutdown will also affect around 66,000 workers across 84 US JBS locations. UFCW International President Marc Perrone said that he is “urging JBS to ensure that all of its meatpacking workers receive their contractually guaranteed pay as these plant shutdowns continue.”
Are Cyberattacks a Growing Threat?
That seems to be the case. An increasing number of cyberattacks are being reported each year. In fact, recent hacking statistics say that there is a new victim of ransomware every 11 seconds.
The cybercrime problem costs the world around $6 trillion. Nobody is spared—it can affect both individuals or businesses.
On the individual level, cyberattacks usually focus on stealing personal data to use for phishing scams, while hacking businesses usually have the goal of asking for ransom, exposing sensitive information to the public, or simply disrupting the work of the business.
Individuals can protect themselves via special protection services, but cyberattack protection is much more complex (and expensive) for businesses.
Most recently, the US has been subject to several impactful cyberattacks, infiltrating federal agencies and businesses, disrupting e-mail distribution, and shutting down the Colonial Pipeline, to name a few. The common denominator for all these attacks is the location of the culprit(s)—Russia.
In two weeks, President Biden will be meeting Vladimir V. Putin at a Geneva summit, during which the recent cyberattacks (and Russia’s involvement in them) will surely be on the agenda.