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Cyberattack sidelines the world’s largest meat producer

Industry analysts say it could add to growing supply chain issues

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Photo (c) RUNSTUDIO - Getty Images
JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, was the target of a cyberattack over the weekend that shut down its North American and Australian operations.

The company said it was forced to shut down some of its computer networks after an organized assault by an unidentified hacker group. Officials say the attack could result in some delays in its transactions with customers.

“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,” JBS said in a statement. “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 attack is the second on a major industry in less than a month. In May, a Russia-based hacker group shut down the Colonial pipeline carrying gasoline from the Gulf Coast to the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, resulting in fuel shortages and higher prices.

The latest attack could affect consumers at the supermarket. Because of JBS’s global scale, industry analysts say a shutdown that extends longer than a week could have an impact on the global supply chain. Plants in Canada and Australia ship meat around the world, Including to U.S. wholesalers.

Previous supply chain issues

The industry has only recently recovered from severe supply chain issues that arose during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Outbreaks of the virus forced some U.S. meat processing plants to close temporarily. There was also a shortage of truck drivers to deliver the products to stores.

According to Bloomberg, the attack caused plants to cancel two shifts and stop processing operations at one of its Canadian plants. The report cites a union statement that operations have been affected at some U.S. facilities.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft issued a warning that cyber attacks were increasing and were becoming more dangerous. The company said the latest threat is malware that is delivered by email in the form of a PDF attachment.

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