Approximately 20 percent of the United States’ beef capacity has been “wiped out” following a cyberattack on JBS SA, the largest meat producer in the world, according to a Tuesday report.
Bloomberg News reports:
JBS’s five biggest beef plants in the U.S. — which altogether handle 22,500 cattle a day — halted processing following a weekend attack on the Brazilian company’s computer networks, according to JBS posts on Facebook, labor unions and employees. Those outages wiped out nearly a fifth of America’s production. Slaughter operations across Australia were also down, according to a trade group, and one of Canada’s largest beef plants was idled.
The prospect of more extensive shutdowns around the world is already upending agricultural markets and raising concerns about food security as hackers increasingly target critical infrastructure.
In the U.S., JBS accounts for about a quarter of all U.S. beef capacity and roughly a fifth of all pork capacity.
“The company’s backup servers were not affected and it is actively working with an Incident Response firm to restore its systems as soon as possible.” Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said in a statement addressing the cyberattack.
“Despite the fact that JBS accounts for around 20 percent of our processing production here in Australia, we’re not expecting there to be significant impacts on exports so long as this isn’t a protracted shutdown,” Littleproud added. “We’re also working with JBS right here in Australia to make sure that we can get some limited capacity up and going in the next couple of days. JBS have been very proactive in that.”
Meanwhile, the White House said Tuesday that Russia was likely the origin of the cyberattack and has called on Moscow to punish the hackers responsible.
“JBS notified the administration that the ransom demand came from a criminal organization, likely based in Russia,” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, according to The Hill.
“The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter, and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals,” the White House official added.
Jean-Pierre also said that the Biden administration has offered assistance to JBS and confirmed the FBI has launched a probe into the matter.
“The White House has offered assistance to JBS, and our team and the Department of Agriculture have spoken to their leadership several times in the last day,” Jean-Pierre said.
“We’re assessing any impacts on supply, and the president has directed the administration to determine what we can do to mitigate any impacts as they may become necessary,” she added.