Meat Shortage in the U.S. a Concern After Cyberattack on a Large Meat Producer

"d2590-1" (CC BY 2.0) by U.S. Department of Agriculture

On Tuesday, the world’s largest meat producers closed all of their U.S.-based beef plants while responding to cyberattacks. 

According to officials from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), JBS (one of the largest meat producers) shut down all its plants in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

The shutdown will affect over 25,000 JBS employees, according to International Union. JBS employs a total of 66,000 workers all over the 84 U.S.-based plants. 

Accordingly, the plants affected produce almost one-quarter of the beef supplies in the U.S. 

The cyberattack against the beef plant raised concerns for a potential meat shortage in the United States and other countries possibly affected by the situation. However, it is not yet clear how the shutdown would affect the prices of meat at present. 

“Organized cybersecurity attack”

According to JBS USA, they discovered the organized cybersecurity attack on Sunday. It made an impact on some of the computer systems located in North America and Australia. 

Moreover, the company noted that it could “take time” to fix the cybersecurity breach; they then provided a notice that this breach could cause delays in some transactions with customers and suppliers. 

“Data Security” (CC BY 2.0) by Blogtrepreneur

Meanwhile, UFCW called upon the company to pay employees who would suffer impacts from the temporary closing of the plant.

Marc Perrone, UFCW International president, said that the UFW is pleased that JBS is “working around the clock” to resolve the issue. He also added that the UFCW is asking JBS to assure that all of the workers affected would receive their contractually guaranteed payment as the shutdowns in this plant continue.

Meanwhile, JBS has yet to disclose in public whether a ransomware attack targeted it. The White House also made a statement saying they are aware of what happened. And indicated a Russian criminal group they believe is more likely to be responsible. 

Karine Jean-Pierre: the cyberattack more likely came from a group based in Russia

Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy, said in a press briefing that the JBS notified the White House. Jean-Pierre said the ransom demand came from a criminal group that is more likely based in Russia. 

Accordingly, the White House is talking directly with the Russian government concerning this matter. They also delivered the message saying that responsible nations are not in the business of giving safe haven to ransomware criminals.

On the other hand, Daniel Hoffman, former CIA Moscow station chief and a Fox News contributor, blamed the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, for the “resurgence strategy.”

Hoffman, who worked in Moscow for five years, also mentioned that these attacks are happening as a show of force to the U.S. leading up to the upcoming summit on June 16.