Brazil’s JBS, the largest meat supplier in the world, has been attacked by hackers using ransomware, raising the possibility of meat shortages and price increases for consumers.
JBS’ computer networks were breached, temporarily halting some operations in Australia, Canada, and the US, the BBC reported. The White House said the company believed the attack (and the ransom demand) “came from a criminal organisation likely based in Russia.”
“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,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said.
The US itself has been rocked by a spate of high-profile cyberattacks that have been blamed on Russia or hackers based in Russia. This includes the notorious SolarWinds hacks, which breached multiple departments of the US federal government, and the very recent cyberattacks on US government agencies and NGOs.
Ransomware attacks, like the one that hit JBS, are becoming increasingly common, and involve hostaging or stealing data in order to demand a ransom. They can have massive consequences like last month’s ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in the US, which disrupted fuel supplies in a large swath of the country for days.
Similarly, the JBS attack is attracting attention because of the company’s size and importance. The Brazilian firm processes almost one quarter of America’s beef and one fifth of its pork, and supplies supermarkets and fast food chain McDonald’s.