- JBS Foods has shut down production in Australia and other places in the world in response to a cyberattack.
- IT and internet access have been disrupted, and the operations of the world’s largest meat processor cannot continue.
- Right now, speculation shrouds the time needed to return to normality, so the impact on the economy could be anything.
Meat processing giant JBS has fallen victim to a cyberattack that forced it to shut down all its production units worldwide. That includes the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, France, the UK, and the Netherlands. This sounds like malware has managed to spread like a worm on the global corporate network of the company, and the fact that a spokesperson of JBS was unable to give an estimated return to normal status is doubling down on that.
According to ABC Radio Brisbane, which hosted the comments of JBS Australia CEO Brent Eastwood, there is going to be a disruption in the supply of meat to the market. However, experts in the field don't believe that there will be any shortages after all. The 6,700 employees of the firm in the country are going to have to stay home for now. The majority of meat processing facilities work on a daily hire arrangement, so that means they won’t get paid for as long as the outage lasts. As for the cattle, the animals will be returned to paddocks and feedlots for now.
With livestock products accounting for a significant portion of the GDP in the countries where JBS dominates the market, there will be a noticeable impact on their economy if the disruption lasts for more than a couple of days. In Australia, livestock accounts for 2% of the national GDP, in Brazil it’s 7%, and in the United States, the cattle industry has a value of around $50 billion. Of course, JBS isn’t the only player in this field, but it's still the largest meat processing company globally, operating a total of 150 industrial plants.
For now, JBS hasn’t published a statement on the incident, so we have no details about what exactly has happened and who is responsible for this massive disruption - if it’s a ransomware group (likely) or animal rights hacktivists (unlikely). JBS Australia is expected to issue a statement later in the day, so we'll update this post as soon as we have something from them.
In the meantime, if you’re worried about whether or not you’ll be able to find meat and get your grills sizzling today since it’s Memorial Day in the United States, you shouldn’t be. The supply chains aren’t disrupted yet, and it is still unclear how serious this is beyond Australia, where the initial reports are coming from.