Mysterious cyberattack cripples world's largest meat supplier

JBS shut down some plants Tuesday after an 'organized cybersecurity attack.'

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GREELEY, COLORADO - APRIL 16: The Greeley JBS meat packing plant sits idle on April 16, 2020 in Greeley, Colorado. The meat packing facility has voluntarily closed until April 24 in order to test employees for the coronavirus (COVID-19) virus. As more workers test positive for the coronavirus throughout the U.S, plants in Colorado, South Dakota, and Iowa have temporarily halted production.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman via Getty Images

A cyberattack forced the world's largest meat supplier, JBS, to shut down pork and beef processing in some factories in the United States, Canada and Australia on Monday and Tuesday. It's unclear which group orchestrated the attack, and there's no word on when operations will resume at the affected facilities in Ottumwa, Iowa; Worthington, Minnesota; Cactus, Texas; Greeley, Colorado; Brooks, Alberta; and across Australia.

In a press release, JBS USA called the incursion an "organized cybersecurity attack" and said it targeted servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems.

"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," JBS USA said. "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."

JBS is responsible for roughly 25 percent of all meat processing in the US, and about 20 percent of all meat processing in Australia. The company has 47 facilities and about 11,000 employees in Australia alone. An Australian government official said it could be days before production resumes in the country, according to AP.

Cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure seem to be on the rise. In May, a ransomware group took down the Colonial Pipeline and caused a wave of fuel shortages in parts of the US. It was one of the largest ransomware attacks to date, and it forced the DHS and TSA to impose new guidelines requiring pipeline owners to notify federal authorities if they fall victim to a ransomware attack.

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