JBS cyberattack linked to Russia wipes out a fifth of US beef capacity, report says

·2 min read
<p>A beef herd in Texas</p> (Getty)

A beef herd in Texas


The Russia-linked cyberattack on the world's largest meat producer may have affected one-fifth of the United States’ meat supply, according to a report.

The attack on the country's food security comes less than four weeks after a hack of the Colonial Pipeline raised concerns over energy security. But the hack on the Brazil-based meat company's computer networks could have a far greater impact based on an analysis by Bloomberg.

The five plants in the US process a combined 22,500 cattle per day and the weekend attack effectively wiped out almost a fifth of the country's production, with operations also reported down in Australia and Canada, the outlet said.

The White House said on Tuesday that JBS received a ransom demand from a criminal group "likely based in Russia".

Colonial Pipeline paid Russian hackers DarkSide a $5m ransom they hoped would restore their network.

While deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies Ann Neuberger said whether paying a ransom was typically "a private-sector decision", paying off the Colonial Pipeline hackers led to fears more ransom attacks would follow on the country's critical infrastructure.

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the Biden administration has offered assistance to JBS and is engaging with the Russian government.

She said the US Department of Agriculture was working with meat processors in the country to ensure they're aware of the situation.

"We're assessing any impacts on supply and the president has directed to the administration to determine what we can do to mitigate any impacts as they may become necessary," Ms Jean-Pierre said.

The shutdown of the largest gas pipeline in the US sparked panic buying and gas supply shortages until systems came back online and oil began flowing again.

After JBS confirmed the latest ransom attack in a statement on Monday, trading CME cattle futures fell more than 3 per cent but recovered slightly as the market waited to learn the full extent of the production shutdowns globally.

JBS accounts for 23 per cent of the US's beef capacity, ahead of Tyson Foods’ 22 per cent share, and about 20 per cent of pork capacity, Bloomberg reported.

They said the company either shut down processing or cancelled shifts at facilities in Utah, Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa and Colorado on Tuesday.

Union officials and employees were also quoted as saying pork and chicken facilities were closed in Minnesota.

“There are at least 10 plants I have knowledge of that have had operations suspended because of the cyberattack,” Paula Schelling-Soldner, acting chairperson for the national council of locals representing food inspectors for the American Federation of Government Employees, told the outlet.

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