National Security

World’s Largest Meatpacking Company Reportedly Targeted By Russian Hackers, Forced To Shut Down Plants

REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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The JBS meatpacking company was reportedly targeted by Russian hackers over the weekend, forcing it to shut down operations in North America and Australia.

JBS’s servers were breached May 30, it announced in a Monday press release. The White House said the hackers demanded a ransom. As a result, the company was forced to temporarily shut down meatpacking plants in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Alberta, Canada and Queensland, Australia.

JBS produces one-fourth of the United States’ beef and one-fifth of the country’s pork, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Sao Paulo, Brazil-based company sold more than $50 billion in meat products in 2020, according to MarketScreener.

The White House believes that the hackers are operating out of Russia, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a Tuesday press conference.

The JBS hack is the second in less than one month to impact a major United States supply chain. The Colonial Pipeline, which provides 45% of the gas used in East Coast states, was hacked and temporarily shut down by East European hacker group DarkSide. (RELATED: Cyber Experts Warn Pipeline Hack Could Be Just The Beginning)

That hack caused temporary gas shortages in states like North Carolina and Georgia. At least four governors declared states of emergency due to the shortages. Gas prices have continued to spike in the aftermath of the pipeline shutdown, although experts also blame increased demand and economy-wide inflation.

Meat prices are expected to increase further as a result of the temporary supply chain interruption, risk management consultant and commodities broker Matthew Wiegand told Reuters.

“If it lingers for multiple days, you see some food service shortages,” he said. “The good thing is that this happened after Memorial Day. You are on the downhill side of summer demand and summer bookings.”

Beef and veal prices increased 1.4%, pork prices increased 2.4%, other meat prices increased 0.6% and poultry prices increased 1.1% between March and April 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture reported. Those increases were reportedly driven by increased demand, as well as weather patterns that impacted feed costs. Other reports point to inflation as a driving factor in rising prices.