A cyber-attack on the world’s largest meat-processing company has forced it to halt all US operations while it scrambles to restore functionality.

JBS, which supplies more than a fifth of all beef in America, said all of its US beef plants were pushed offline on Sunday. The ransomware attack on the Brazilian-headquartered company’s networks also disrupted other operations across the US, as well as the company’s businesses in other countries, including Australia, but less severely.

The company said in a statement: “On Sunday, May 30, JBS USA determined that it was the target of an organised cybersecurity attack, affecting some of the servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems. The company took immediate action, suspending all affected systems, notifying authorities and activating the company’s global network of IT professionals and third-party experts to resolve the situation.

“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.

“The company is not aware of any evidence at this time that any customer, supplier or employee data has been compromised or misused as a result of the situation. Resolution of the incident will take time, which may delay certain transactions with customers and suppliers.”

In the beef plants most severely affected, the outage has had an immediate impact on operations. Without digital record-keeping, JBS has been unable to process carcasses slaughtered on Friday, and has been attempting to move to pen-and-paper documentation while the meat remains in the chiller.

According to industry site Beef Central, many of the “stranded” carcasses are from valuable Wagyu cows destined for restaurant tables, but even the three-day shutdown will have an impact on consumer supplies in the US. There has been little effect on the price in wholesale markets, however, where a kilo of beef is up only 1% since Friday.

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The White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday the attackers were most likely a criminal organisation based in Russia. “The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbour ransomware criminals,” she added.

The JBS attack is the second major ransomware attack to disrupt US supply chains in as many months. In May, an attack on the Colonial Pipeline disrupted oil supplies up the US east coast. That same month, an attack on the Irish healthcare system caused “catastrophic” damage, until the hackers dropped their demand for payment and decrypted computers for free. The Conti crime gang, which attacked the hospitals, is still demanding payment to stop it publishing the stolen data publicly.



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