The Brazilian meat giant JBS has been the latest target of global computer hacking, after earlier this week its subsidiary in the United States was extorted through a cyberattack that company officials believe originated in Russia and which forced part of it to stop. production in North America and Australia.
The US affiliate of JBS received a ransom demand from “a criminal organization probably based in Russia” after suffering a cyber attack that affected the chain of prosecution in Australia and North America, as reported on Tuesday by a spokeswoman for the House White. The fact that the confirmation of the fact comes from the White House reveals the entity of the attack, which comes less than a month after the action of hackers from the DarkSide group forced the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline pipeline network, which supplies 45% of the fuel it consumes on the east coast of the United States.
The White House spokeswoman reported that the Government of President Joe Biden has offered assistance to JBS, and that the Department of Agriculture is in contact with those responsible for the company, while the FBI investigates the incident and the Agency for Cybersecurity and the Infrastructure Security (CISA), in coordination with the FBI, offers technical support to the company. “The White House is in direct contact with the Russian Government on this issue, and sends the message that the responsible states do not harbor criminals from ransomware“Said the spokeswoman. Russia denies serving as a base for the DarkSide pirates.
The ransomware (malicious program) is a modus operandi cybercrime that consists of taking advantage of security flaws in a computer system to block it and then demand a ransom to resume it. Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest fuel distribution networks in the US, had to shell out $ 4.4 million to hackers to unlock its systems, the firm acknowledged. The company’s vulnerability led the Biden government last week to impose cybersecurity requirements on pipelines for the first time.
The attack on the meat giant was revealed by the company on Monday. “JBS USA turned out to be the target of an organized cybersecurity attack, affecting some of the servers that support its computer systems in North America and Australia,” the company said in a statement without elaborating.
It was the unions that specified the scope of the cyber attack. United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents workers in Colorado and Wyoming, said slaughterhouse and manufacturing shifts were canceled Monday. A Wisconsin factory reported that there would be no production that day. Another from Utah announced the suspension of activity also on Monday, while in Iowa the closure was partial, with only four departments paralyzed. The JBS division in Canada canceled some operations on Monday and during the early hours of this Tuesday, but then announced via Facebook that it would resume normal production.
JBS, a multinational based in Brazil specialized in processed products based on beef, chicken and pork, is one of the largest agri-food companies in the world, with a presence in the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, Mexico, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The company has assured that its backup servers were not affected by the incident, and that it hopes to resume activity in most of the plants this Wednesday. In Australia, the JBS factory was paralyzed, forcing 10,000 workers to be sent home without pay, according to union sources cited by the agency France Presse, who said they did not know the date of resumption of activity at the plant.
The two cyberattacks cited come after the daring meddling in the software company SolarWinds in 2020, which Washington attributes to a Moscow-backed group and which prompted a round of harsh sanctions against individuals and companies in the orbit of the Kremlin. According to Microsoft, a new barrage of cyberattacks that occurred a few weeks ago is suspected of that same group, which would have targeted the servers of government agencies, expert centers, consultancies and other organizations.
“The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving and we must adapt to address new and emerging threats,” Alejandro Mayorkas, head of the US Department of Homeland Security, said last week.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.