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    Cyberattack Forced Shutdown of the World’s Largest Meat Processor

    The White House confirmed that JBS, the largest meat processor in the world, was breached by a ransomware attack. JBS accounts for one-fifth of the daily cattle harvest in the United States and is based in Brazil. The JBS attack comes only one month after the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline that caused a spike in gas prices and panic across the southeast.

    The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union that represents JBS workers at beef, pork, and poultry plants reported that all nine of the United States based JBS beef plants were shut down on June 1 due to the breach. The breach also affected over 2,000 workers in Brooks, Alberta and Australian systems were shut down on May 30. There was no impact on Brazilian operation as reported by a representative in Sao Paulo.

    Ongoing shutdowns would pose a threat to American meat prices and exports. Although planning to reopen just one day later on June 2, the production shutdown at JBS could have significant impact to wholesale beef prices per analysts at Daily Livestock Report.

    JBS was quoted saying that it was the target of an “organized cybersecurity attack” that affected systems in North America and Australia. It went on to say that backup servers were not affected and it is not expected that any data for customers, suppliers, or employees was exposed.

    JBS told the Biden Administration that the ransomware attack had come from “a criminal organization likely based in Russia,” according to Karine Jean-Pierre, a White House deputy press secretary. Several federal agencies, including the FBI, are involved in the investigation and maintenance of the hack.

    The rise of ransomware on large, critical U.S. businesses has become a concern of national security. Jean-Pierre reported that the White House is engaging directly with the Russian government following the ransomware attacks on JBS and Colonial Pipeline. Ransomware is more dangerous than ever before. Organizations and businesses, large and small, should be doing all they can do in the realm of cybersecurity to defend against cyberattacks that can bring about unthinkable damage.