Cyberattack Hits World-Leading Meat Supplier, Wiping Out 20 Percent Of U.S. ‘Beef Capacity.’ Ransom Demand ‘Likely’ From Russian Criminals
Cows are seen at Liniers Market, in Liniers neighborhood, Buenos Aires on 18 May 2021. - Argentine meat producers announced on Tuesday they would stop selling beef and veal for one week in response to a month-long government suspension on exports due to rising prices on the domestic market.

According to reports from Bloomberg, 20 percent of U.S. beef capacity has been “wiped out” by a cyberattack on JBS S.A., a Brazilian company that is the largest meat processing company in the world.

“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,” wrote Bloomberg. “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.”

Bloomberg added that JBS has yet to confirm how many plants globally have been impacted by the cyberattack, while even the “prospect of more extensive shutdowns worldwide” is causing turbulence in agriculture markets. “Livestock futures slumped while pork prices rose,” added Bloomberg.

The company informed the Biden administration of the cyberattack, according to White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, adding that “JBS reported that the attack originated from a criminal group likely based in Russia.”

“Meat producer JBS notified us on Sunday that they are the victims of a ransomware attack.  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,” said Jean-Pierre. “JBS notified the administration that the ransom demand came from a criminal organization likely based in Russia.”

Jean-Pierre then said that the Biden administration was “engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals,” and that the FBI is “investigating the incident.”

“USDA has reached out to several major meat processors in the United States to ensure they are aware of the situation,” Jean-Pierre continued, on the subject of supply concerns. “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.”

Jean-Pierre then concluded by pushing the Biden administration’s claimed efforts regarding cybersecurity.

“Combating ransomware is a priority for the administration,” Jean-Pierre said. “President Biden has already launched a rapid strategic review to address the increased threat of ransomware to include four lines of effort: one, distribution of ransomware infrastructure and actors working closely with the private sector; two, building an international coalition to hold countries who harbor ransom actors accountable; expanding cryptocurrency analysis to find and pursue criminal transaction; and reviewing the USG’s ransomware policies.”

“This builds on President Biden’s executive order, which is now being implemented.  The executive order outlines five high-priority cybersecurity initiatives that, if implemented, will reduce the risk of cyberattacks including ransomware,” Jean-Pierre concluded. “We call on organizations across government and the private sector to take the threat of ransomware seriously and modernize their cyber defenses, including implementing the practices in the executive order.”

This attack is the latest in a series of cyber-based assaults on Western infrastructure, some of them being extremely lucrative for the hackers responsible. In May, The Daily Wire reported that “The hackers who caused the weeklong shutdown of a major U.S. gasoline pipeline have reportedly hit nearly 50 other targets, pulling in more than $90 million in ransoms.”

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