World’s Largest Meat Processor Hacked, May Delay Supply

June 01, 2021

By Kana Ruhalter

Photo: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, was targeted by hackers on Sunday. According to a report from the Washington Post, the hack hits the industry as it continues to recover from the supply chain’s strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The company released a statement on Sunday that it detected the intrusion in North America and Australia, but backup servers remained unaffected. The industry giant assures that they are working with an outside cybersecurity firm to rehabilitate its systems. 

Though JBS has not specified how their operations may have been affected, they have said that the resulting consequences from the attack “may delay certain transactions with customers or suppliers.” 

JBS did not respond to the Washington Post’s request for comment.

JBS notified the White House of the cyberattack on Sunday and, alongside the Biden administration, said the ransom demand likely came from a criminal organization that may have ties to Russia, according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

“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,” Jean-Pierre said.

As the FBI investigates the attack, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has alerted other major meat processors of the cyberattack. They are continuing to assess the impact the attack had on meat supply and alleviate any ramifications. 

Three weeks ago, the Colonial Pipeline was also the target of a cyberattack, of which the perpetrators demanded $4.4 million in ransom money. The interference hampered the East Coast’s fuel infrastructure that resulted in gasoline shortages across several states. 

The coronavirus pandemic caused an outbreak in the meatpacking industries last year. Hundreds of workers fell ill, forcing the slaughterhouses owned by Tyson, Smithfield Foods, and JBS USA to shut down. 

Experts say it’s too early to know the cyberattack’s impact on the meat market.