Cyberattack on JBS Causes Closures and Disrupts Meatpacking Industry

JBS, one of the largest meatpacking companies around the world which produces almost a quarter of beef in the United States, announced on Monday that it was targeted in a cybersecurity attack on May 30. The company said that it quickly responded to the situation, and that there is currently not any evidence that data for any customer, supplier, or employee was compromised. 

“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 press release said. 

In the press release, the Brazil-based company said that the attack affected the servers related to its North American and Australian IT operations. JBS reported that resolving the incident could delay transactions with both customers and suppliers.

Bloomberg reported on Monday that one of the largest JBS beef plants in Canada shut down following the attack, a trade group reported that all of JBS’s operations in Australia had been halted, and labor unions have announced that shifts at multiple United States plants had been cancelled. Some Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plants have also been closed, as the company is owned by JBS, showing the disruption could stretch further into the meatpacking industry. In its press release, the company did not address these plant closures or give information about when operations may return to normal.

“The prospect of more extensive shutdowns around the world is already upending agricultural markets and raising concerns about food security as hackers increasingly target critical infrastructure. Livestock futures slumped,” Bloomberg’s article said.

Although the origin of the cyberattack is still not clear, during a White House press briefing on Monday Karine Jean-Pierre, Principal Deputy Press Secretary, said the attack was likely from a Russian-based criminal organization. Jean-Pierre further said that the White House and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have offered assistance to JBS and the FBI is investigating the attack.