Hackers Hack Global Meat Supplier: How It Happened
Hackers Hack Global Meat Supplier: How It Happened

GREELY, COLORADO — The disruptive power of ransomware attacks was already on full display last month, when hackers attacked Colonial Pipeline, halting fuel distribution from a crucial U.S. pipeline for days.

Now, a new ransomware attack on a global meat supplier is threatening the food-supply chain — and underscoring, once again, that ransomware is an urgent national and international security issue.

Here are the details: The BBC reports that the world's largest meat-processing company has been targeted by a sophisticated cyber attack.

JBS said on Monday 31 May that its computer networks were hacked, causing operations in Australia, Canada and the US to shut down.

Bloomberg reports that the shutdown had halted 20% of America's meat production.

The White House said that this was a ransomware attack by a criminal group likely based in Russia.

It said the FBI is investigating the attack while the White House is engaging directly with the Russian government and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.

In a ransomware attack, hackers get into a computer network and threaten to cause disruption or delete files unless a ransom is paid.

The attack could lead to shortages of meat or raise prices for consumers.

JBS said it had made "significant progress" in resolving the cyber attack and hoped the vast majority of its plants would be operational by Wednesday the second of June.

According to the trade group, Beef Central, supermarkets and other big end-users — like the supply network for McDonalds burger patties — will be some of the most immediately impacted customers, due to their need for consistent supply.