During the weekend, hackers attacked the Brazilian meat processing company JBS. The Sao Paulo-based organization known as the world’s largest meat supplier became a victim of a ransomware attack organized by a hacker group located on the other side of the world. The cyber incident caused havoc in company facilities in multiple countries, including the USA, Canada, and Australia. The cybercrime was so impactful that it forced almost all JBS operations in the USA to shut down temporarily.
The Brazilian company runs almost one-quarter of all cattle processing facilities in the USA and works with McDonald’s and many popular supermarkets. Even though many media outlets reported that beef supplies were running short after the attack, meat industry experts said that short time interruptions in the meat supply happen all the time, so there was no need for panic as long as the issue gets resolved sooner than later.
Shutting down the operations of the meat plants owned by JBS was not the only issue caused by the attack. With the plants not being able to operate, tens of thousands of workers did not know for days whether they will be able to return to work. In addition, with workers not being able to work and not being paid, the hacker group hit the company’s corporate structure and the tens of thousands of Americans who rely on job stability. Luckily, the issue got resolved relatively quickly as JBS began returning to normalcy on Wednesday. It is currently unknown whether JBS paid the ransom or managed to resolve the issue by themselves. However, Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA, said they are not sparing any resources to fight the threat.
A few days after the cybersecurity incident, the FBI confirmed that they firmly believe the hacker attack originated from a group of cybercriminals called Revil. According to the BBC, the criminal organization appears to be located in Russia and is known as one of the most prolific and profitable cyber-criminal groups in the world.
JBS reported the issue to The White House too. Jen Psaki, a press secretary of president Joe Biden, condemned the actions of the cybercriminals and said that the issue made it to the highest level of government and gave assurance that Joe Biden will bring it up during his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is not the first attack that has disrupted American lives lately. For example, the cyber-attack that caused gas shortages across the East Coast of the USA last month was also thought to be originating from Russia. With this in mind, the White House Secretary Jen Psaki said that such cyber-attacks on American critical infrastructures are reminders to the private sector about the need and importance of strengthening their cybersecurity protections.
Like almost any other business, modern meat processing very much relies on technology. Computers are used to collect data at multiple stages of the meat production process. They are also deployed on the corporate level for regular operation tasks such as invoicing, shipping, orders, billing, etc. While Americans dodged the bullet this time, as the incident did not cause meat shortages, we all have to keep in mind that hackers are lurking around and are looking for ways to attack not only businesses but regular people. Having an extra layer of protection on all your connected devices has never been more important than now.