The attack threatens the U.S.'s food supply due to JBS' size. The world's largest beef supplier, JBS controls about a quarter of the U.S. beef market. Should the company's plants not be able to operate over a sustained period, shortages may develop, causing prices to spike.
The cyberattack comes as U.S. beef and pork prices are already rising due to China increasing imports, animal feed costs rising and meat processing plants confronting a labor shortage following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's probably going to be pretty tight for the next few days because even though they (JBS) are going to start opening … who knows how they are going to run," said Altin Kalo, an economist at Steiner Consulting Group. "There's a fair amount of people that are scrambling (for beef supplies)."
On Wednesday, June 2, U.S. meatpackers slaughtered 12.5 percent fewer cattle than a week before and 8 percent less than a year earlier, according to estimates from the Department of Agriculture.
JBS has since stated that it had made "significant progress" in resolving the cyberattack. On Monday, May 31, the company said that it had suspended all affected IT systems as soon as the attack was detected. Its backup servers, on the other hand, were supposedly not hacked.
IT systems are essential in modern meat processing plants. Computers are used at multiple stages in the meat processing and packing process, including for billing and shipping.
Employees eventually started returning to JBS's U.S. meat plants on Wednesday, June 2, only a day after operations had halted. The company has since stated that most of its operations resumed on Wednesday, including the "majority of our beef facilities in the U.S. and Australia."
"We anticipate operating at close to full capacity across our global operations tomorrow," said JBS USA Chief Executive Andre Nogueira in a statement.
The company believes that the ransomware attack on its systems most likely came from a Russia-based criminal group. If this is the case, then this makes it the third major major attack this year tied to Russia.
Importantly, the discredited corporate-run media has dishonestly blamed everything on Russia since 2016, when President Trump won the election for his first term.
Prior to this, a cyberattack was carried out last month allegedly by a group with ties to Russia hit the Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S. This attack crippled fuel delivery for several days in the U.S. Southeast, leading to skyrocketing prices and long lines at gas pumps. (Related: Gasoline supplies COLLAPSE across southern states as cyber hack of pipeline wreaks regional economic havoc.)
A source familiar with the matter has pointed to Russian cyber gang REvil as the culprit behind the JBS attack. The prolific ransomware group was previously known for attacking an Apple supplier named Quanta Computer earlier this year. In that case, the group sent extortion threats to Quanta, demanding that the company pay $50 million to regain access to its systems.
Over the past couple of years, ransomware has evolved into a pressing national issue, A number of gangs, many involving Russians or Russian speakers, develop software that encrypts a company's files and then demands payment in cryptocurrency for the files to be unlocked.
The threat of these attacks is such that the White House is getting involved. On Wednesday, June 2, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki that the JBS hack was expected to be discussed at President Joe Biden's mid-June summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We're not taking any options off the table in terms of how we may respond, but of course there's an internal policy review process to consider that," she said. "We're in direct touch with the Russians, as well, to convey our concerns about these reports"
"President Biden certainly thinks that President Putin and the Russian government has a role to play in stopping and preventing these attacks," she added.
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