The world’s number one meat company, the Brazilian group JBS, is the victim of a cyberattack with ransom demand from a criminal organization “probably based in Russia”, which has led to the closure of several of its slaughterhouses and factories in Australia and North America.
• Read also: The American subsidiary of JBS victim of a cyberattack
The US subsidiary of JBS said Monday that it had discovered that it was targeted by an attack “affecting several of the servers on which its computer system is based in North America and Australia”.
The group has not itself publicly specified the nature of this intrusion, but has, according to a spokesperson for the White House, indicated to the American authorities to be the target of a cyber attack coming from a “criminal organization probably based in Russia ”.
“The White House is in direct contact with the Russian government on this issue and is sending the message that states that show responsibility should not host ransomware authors,” Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.
Ransomware or “ransomware” is a process that exploits security holes to block computer systems and demand ransom to unblock them.
It was an attack of this type which had targeted the operator of a huge American oil pipeline, Colonial Pipeline, in early May, causing major gasoline supply problems in the southeastern United States for several days.
All the systems targeted by the computer attack were shut down and the servers providing the backups were not affected, JBS USA had specified on Monday, indicating that it had contacted the authorities.
“At this stage, the company is not informed of any misuse of the data of its customers, suppliers or employees resulting from this situation,” added JBS USA, warning all the same that transactions with its customers and suppliers could be “slowed down”.
The company did not immediately respond to AFP’s requests for details.
In Australia, however, business has been paralyzed and its 10,000 workers sent home without pay, union official Matt Journeaux told AFP. The management of the subsidiary does not yet know when activities can resume, he added.
In the United States, some production lines were suspended Tuesday at at least two sites in Iowa, and at least two slaughterhouses, in Wisconsin and Texas, have completely shut down the chains, according to messages posted on their respective official page on Facebook. A plant in Utah was also shut down, according to an employee who responded to AFP at the site’s standard and did not wish to give his name.
In Canada, a slaughterhouse employing more than 3,300 people had to cancel three shifts on Monday and Tuesday, according to the site’s Facebook page. But production should resume “as scheduled” Tuesday for one of the two teams, he added.
JBS, specializing in beef, chicken and pork products, is one of the largest food companies in the world.
It sells its products in particular to the United States, its most important market, to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, several countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Offensives against key economic groups have increased in recent months.
The oil pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline admitted having had to pay a ransom of 4.4 million dollars to the pirates to be able to restart the flow of fuel in its pipes.
US authorities blamed the attack on DarkSide, a group of cybercriminals believed to be based in Russia, a charge Moscow refuted. In the process, Washington took steps to improve cybersecurity in the United States.
A vast cyberattack against government organizations and businesses via software from Texas-based SolarWinds, uncovered at the end of 2020, had already shaken the US government.
A Microsoft email hack, this time attributed to a group of Chinese hackers backed by Beijing, also affected at least 30,000 US organizations, including businesses, cities and local communities.
In the case of JBS, “the good news is that their backup system appears to have been unaffected, which shows that they have followed best practices and have an incident response plan,” commented Joseph Carson of Thycotic. , an American cybersecurity company. This makes them “more resilient” without however “protecting them from cyber attacks”, he added.