Hackers Threatening Meat Now, With World's Largest Supplier Hit by 'Organized' Attack

DARIO LOPEZ-MILLS

Looks like the hackers are getting bolder.

A cyberattack hit the largest supplier of meat in the world, JBS, affecting its North American and Australian IT systems, according to USA Today. The U.S. subsidiary, JBS USA, announced they had been the victim of an “organized cybersecurity attack” on Sunday and they shut down their affected systems. They’ve called in experts to help investigate.

JBS is the leading processor of beef, pork, and other prepared foods in the U.S. with 84 U.S. properties. They have 65 production facilities with operations in 28 US states, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, KCNC-TV reported.

It’s not clear yet how that will affect the U.S. production facilities, although some facilities elsewhere have been shut down. The company said that their back-up servers were still operational and that customer, supplier, and employee data didn’t appear to have been compromised as a result. But that because it would take time to resolve the issue, that this could cause delays to customers and suppliers. They are unable to say how long this may take to resolve. That could impact meat supply, if it goes on for any length of time, just like the Colonial Pipeline impacted gas supply.

As we reported, Colonial Pipeline was hit with a ransomware attack and paid the ransom right away, but despite that it still caused shortages and price surges in gas.

Former senior Department of Homeland Security official, Paul Rosenzweig said this latest attack, so soon after the Colonial Pipeline attack, showed that showed that “nothing was safe,” according to USA Today. He continued:

“Not the meatpacking industry, not the chemical industry, not the wastewater treatment industry, not Sony. Nothing.”

Rosenzweig said that the Colonial Pipeline paying off the ransom has emboldened non-state actors to strike at bigger and more financially vulnerable targets, including JBS. “Until they actually pay consequences, they’ll keep doing it,” he said. “I mean, the Colonial guys got away with $50 million or whatever it was – not bad for a week’s work. Who knows what the JBS guys might get away with?”

While the company isn’t talking yet about it whether they’ve been hit with a ransomware attack, it’s a pretty safe bet.

There’s no question that the Colonial Pipeline paying the ransom is going to incite more such attacks. Some may have been disinclined to go after infrastructure items like a pipeline, because of the adverse reaction of the government and the heightened attention that it would likely bring. But, given the knowledge that the ransom was paid off — even in the face of all that — now attackers may feel that there’s no reason to hold off on that. They’re going to go after companies they think have deep pockets like JBS. And if there are no consequences for this, expect more attacks, more problems and more shortages.