Over the weekend, JBS’s operations in North America and Australia were hit by an “organized cybersecurity attack” which the company called it. The meat packer’s business in Australia was temporarily closed while production at locations in the United States was impacted.
The FBI pinned the JBS cyber attack on REvil, a Russian cyber criminal also known as Sodinokibi.
In a statement released just before 6:00 p.m. ET yesterday (June 3), JBS said its JBS USA and Pilgrim divisions “limited the loss of food produced during the attack to less than a day of production.” The company said, “Any production downtime in the company’s global business will be fully recovered by the end of next week.”
In the US, JBS processes around a quarter of the country’s beef and a fifth of the pork. Pilgrim’s, in which JBS has a controlling interest, is one of the largest poultry processors in the United States. The cyber attack hit JBS factories in the US earlier this week.
A US Department of Agriculture official said yesterday there has been “a strong rebound in beef and pig slaughtering that we expect to continue later this week.” The poultry numbers “are higher this week than last,” the official noted. “All in all, the market is moving towards normalization and if the situation continues to resolve quickly, we do not expect this incident to have any lasting impact on wholesale and retail prices.”
JBS said its encrypted backup servers were not infected during the attack and “allowed them to get back up and running earlier than expected”.
Andre Nogueira, Managing Director of JBS USA added, “The criminals were never able to access our core systems, which greatly reduced the potential impact. Today we are fortunate that all of our facilities around the world are operating at normal capacity and we are focused on living up to our responsibility to produce safe, high quality food. ”
JBS describes itself as the “largest protein producer in the world”. The company processes beef, pork, lamb and chicken and is present in the growing market for meat alternatives.
In addition to North America and Australia, JBS has offices in several countries in Latin America and Europe.
In 2020, JBS had net sales of BRL 270.2 billion ($ 52.44 billion), up 32.1% from the previous year. Higher tax charges contributed to a 24.2% decrease in net income to BRL4.6 billion.
David Bicknell, senior thematic research analyst for UK data and analytics group GlobalData, said an “outbreak of ransomware attacks affecting all industries is evidence that hackers are still steps ahead of the cybersecurity industry”.
Bicknell added, “Ransomware attacks are on the rise precisely because the companies attacked understandably pay to keep their operations going.
“Food manufacturers should ensure that they have a data backup and recovery plan for all critical information, and that they perform and test regular backups to limit the impact of data or system loss and to expedite the recovery process. Keep operating systems and software up to date with the latest patches and ensure that vulnerable applications and operating systems – the targets of most attacks – are patched with the latest updates.
“This significantly reduces the number of exploitable entry points available to an attacker. That doesn’t mean attacks don’t happen, but it does give you a chance to prevent them. ”