Another large corporation has become the target of a ransomware attack that could have far-reaching effects on a supply chain. This time, it’s meat.
You may not have heard of JBS Foods before now, but depending on your dietary restrictions, you’ve probably eaten its wares. JBS is the world’s largest meat producer. Since May 30, however, the company has been dealing with what it called an “organized cybersecurity attack” on its North American and Australian systems, which it is now trying to restore with backups. How long that will take or the impact it will have on the supply chain, JBS said, is not yet known, though there could be delays.
The White House said Tuesday that the attack was ransomware, likely from a group based in Russia, though JBS has not publicly confirmed this. The FBI is investigating, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told Reuters.
Ransomware is malware that encrypts its target’s systems. The hackers then demand a ransom to unlock the files. In some cases, the hack also gains access to the target’s data, and the ransom will also guarantee it won’t be made public.
“Attackers are operating like a well-oiled business industry, yielding high profits in a year that most businesses struggled,” said Nick Rossmann, global lead for threat intelligence at IBM Security X-Force. “Why? The new ransomware business model is relentless, extortive, and paying off.”
JBS has closed facilities in several states and is canceling shifts in others, according to Bloomberg. Canadian plants have also been affected, and the company has stopped all beef and lamb kills in Australia, presumably until the plants needed to process that meat are back online.
The attacks mirrors the Colonial Pipeline shutdown in May. Colonial, which supplies the East Coast with nearly half of its fuel needs, was shut down for several days when a ransomware attack locked up some of its systems. The pipeline itself wasn’t affected, but the company took it offline as a precautionary measure. The shutdown caused gas shortages and price increases in some states, although those were likely from panic buying in anticipation of shortages rather than actual shortages.