US says ransomware attack on meatpacker JBS likely from Russia

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Brazil’s JBS SA told the US government that a ransomware attack on the company that disrupted meat production in North America and Australia originated from a criminal organization likely based in Russia, the White House said on Tuesday.

JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, said on Tuesday night it had made “significant progress in resolving the cyberattack.” The “vast majority” of the company’s beef, pork, poultry and prepared foods plants will be operational on Wednesday, according to a statement, easing concerns over rising food prices.

The cyberattack followed one last month by a group with ties to Russia on Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the United States, which crippled fuel delivery for several days in the US Southeast.

JBS halted cattle slaughter at all its US plants on Tuesday, according to union officials. On Monday, the attack caused Australian operations to shut down.

“Our systems are coming back online and we are not sparing any resources to fight this threat,” said Andre Nogueira, chief executive of JBS USA.

With North American operations headquartered in Greeley, Colorado, JBS controls about 20% of the slaughtering capacity for US cattle and hogs.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the United States contacted Russia’s government and that the FBI was investigating.

“The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals,” Jean-Pierre said.

JBS sells beef and pork under the Swift brand, with retailers like Costco Wholesale Corp carrying its pork loins and tenderloins. JBS also owns most of chicken processor Pilgrim’s Pride Co, which sells organic chicken under the Just Bare brand.

Ongoing shutdowns of JBS plants would threaten to raise meat prices further for American consumers during summer grilling season and to disrupt meat exports at a time of strong demand from China.