Though Largely Recovered, JBS Cyberattack Highlights Need for Robust Food Supply
JBS, one of the world’s largest meatpackers, was hit by a cyberattack the end of May. The company announced that some of the servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems were targeted. Scott Bennett, Director of Congressional Relations with the American Farm Bureau Federation said the company responded immediately.
"The company took immediate action, suspending all of the affected systems, notifying authorities, and activating the company's global network of IT professionals and third-party experts to resolve the situation. The company's backup servers were not affected, Bennett said."
According to the company, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s were able to limit the loss of food produced during the attack to less than one days’ worth of production. Any lost production across the company’s global business would be fully recovered by the end of this week, limiting any potential negative impact on producers, consumers and the company’s workforce.
JBS USA also confirmed it paid the equivalent of $11 million in ransom in response to the criminal hack against its operations. At the time of payment, the vast majority of the company’s facilities were operational. In consultation with internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts, the company made the decision to mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated.
“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said Andre Nogueira, CEO, JBS USA. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”
"It is concerning whenever we see disruptions in our food supply chain. Certainly, the COVID 19 pandemic showed us that last year," Bennett said. "This event has certainly shined a light on how vulnerable even agriculture can be to cybersecurity threats."
Utah Farm Bureau Federation President Ron Gibson was interviewed by national news broadcast NewsNationNow out of Washington, D.C. and talked about how a disruption like this can call attention on the need to diversify the manufacturing side of the food chain.
"We know we're vulnerable, and have been worried about this for some time," Gibson said. "We need to develop small and medium sized packing plants that can fill some of this void.
Preliminary investigation results confirmed that no company, customer or employee data was compromised, as of June 9, 2021.
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