JBS: World’s largest meat supplier hit by cyber-attack

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The world’s largest meat processing company has been targeted by a sophisticated cyber-attack.

Computer networks at JBS were hacked, causing some operations in Australia, Canada and the US to temporarily shut down, affecting thousands of workers.

The company believes the ransomware attack originated from a criminal group likely based in Russia, the White House said.

It follows a similar attack last month on the largest fuel pipeline in the US.

In a ransomware attack, hackers get into a computer network and threaten to cause disruption or delete files unless a ransom is paid.

The White House says the FBI is investigating the attack.

“JBS notified [the White House] that the ransom demand came from a criminal organisation likely based in Russia,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.

“The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbour ransomware criminals,” she added.

JBS said it suspended all affected IT systems as soon as the attack was detected, and that its backup servers were not hacked. However many affected plants are still unable to operate.

“Resolution of the incident will take time, which may delay certain transactions with customers and suppliers,” JBS said in a statement.

According to the trade group Beef Central, “supermarkets and other large end-users like the McDonald’s burger pattie supply network will be some of the most immediately impacted customers, due to their need for consistent supply”.

JBS, which is a Brazilian company, is the world’s biggest supplier of chicken, beef and pork.

The company’s five biggest beef plants are in the US, and the shutdowns have halted a fifth of meat production there, according to Bloomberg.

JBS is also Australia’s largest meat processor, with 47 facilities in several states. The Australian Federal Police have launched an investigation into the attack.

The company’s Canadian plant in Alberta was also affected, with shifts cancelled for two days, according to a JBS Canada Facebook page.

However the company’s South American operations have not been disrupted.

Last month, fuel delivery in the south east of the US was crippled for several days after a ransomware attack targeted the Colonial Pipeline. Investigators say that attack was also linked to a group with ties to Russia.

Colonial Pipeline has confirmed it paid a $4.4m (£3.1m) ransom to the cyber-criminal gang responsible.

The US government has recommended in the past that companies do not pay criminals over ransomware attacks, in case they invite further hacks in the future.

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