How A Ransomware Attack Debilitated Global Meatpacker JBS Foods

JBA Global Meatpacker

Farmers and agriculture businesses across the board want to know: “Can something like the JBS Foods incident happen to me?”  

The short answer is a definitive yes. But we’re going to go much deeper than that in this post. We’ll discuss the who, the what, and the how of the JBS Foods cyberattack. We’ll also discuss how attacks like this can be prevented in the future.

Most importantly, we’ll provide some answers and additional resources on where farmers and agribusiness companies of all sizes can go for additional CyberAg solutions and resources.

Farmers, agriculture, and food supply chain businesses must be on high alert concerning potential cybersecurity threats and bad cyber actors. That’s not a scare tactic, it’s just a harsh reality. The good news is that you can protect yourself and your business with a few precautions and some affordable, common-sense solutions.  

Sentinel Forge Technologies is a specialized CyberAg security company located in Maryland. 

Our goal is to bring advanced cybersecurity solutions to Maryland’s agricultural supply chain. Together we can keep our state and our nation’s farmers, businesses, families, and food supply safe from cybercriminals. We serve a diverse base of clients, including specialized agricultural businesses and farmers, businesses of all sizes and scopes, families, and individuals.

This post will answer the following critical questions surrounding the JBS ransomware attack:

  • Who Is JBS Foods, And Exactly What Happened?
  • How Did The Cyberattack Impact The Farming And Agribusiness Community At Large?
  • Was There A Systemic Impact On Global Food Supplies?
  • How Can Farmers and Agribusinesses Protect Themselves From Future Attacks?

We’ve got a lot of grass to mow, so let’s get started!

There are many definitions of Ransomware. That’s because there are many different types of ransomware attacks. Let’s get started with an excellent definition in the context of the JBS Foods Cyber attack. Form the experts at Investopedia:

Ransomware is a cyber-extortion tactic that uses malicious software to hold a user’s computer system hostage until a ransom is paid. Ransomware attackers often demand ransom in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin due to its perceived anonymity and ease of online payment.

That’s exactly what happened to JBS. One of the largest food processing companies in the world had its IT systems compromised in a ransomware attack. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Who Is JBS Foods, And Exactly What Happened?

JBS is a Brazilian company that entered the U.S. market when it bought Swift & Company in 2007. The company employs around 78,000 employees and does $90 billion in revenue globally.

Hackers penetrated the company’s IT infrastructure in late May 2021, encrypted sensitive data, and forced them to pay ransom in exchange for the decryption keys.

What’s the bottom line? As reported by CNBC and other major news outlets, JBS Foods paid the ransomware cyber attackers, a Russian group known as REvil, over $11,000,000 in Bitcoin. REvil is the group that was involved in the now-infamous Kaseya ransomware attack. 

A group suspected of operating in Russia was also responsible for the Colonial pipeline attack. We’ve discussed both of these ransomware incidents in previous posts. 

How Did The Cyberattack Impact Farming And Agribusiness Groups At Large?

The company reported that it had to shut down its entire cattle slaughtering operations in the U.S. for a day. That may not sound like a big deal. But it gains perspective when you consider the size and scale of a global meat processor like JBS Foods.

A production outage at a single company caused a significant disruption in the global food supply chain, along with a short-term food price increase in the U.S. And the shutdown only lasted one day! 

We could have a lengthy discussion about whether paying the ransomware extortionists was the right thing to do. Here, the company paid it, and the problem was resolved relatively quickly as a result. 

What Was The Systemic Impact On Global Food Supplies?

Fortunately, in this case, the effects were limited. But what if the shutdown had been for a week or a month? What if JBS had permanently lost critical information, damaging its ongoing operations?

It’s important to note that the global food supply chain runs on a delicate balance of logistics and production. The Progressive Farmer reported that cyber criminals also attacked at least two grain processors and a seed mill in 2021 and 2022. When farmers, grain and feed processors, seed mills, fertilizer plants, and food supply chain logistics are interrupted, the ripple effects can be immediate and far-reaching.

Bad cyber actors know that the U.S. food supply chain is a critical infrastructure and is potentially vulnerable.

How Can Farmers and Agribusinesses Protect Themselves From Future Attacks?

We believe that the best defense is a good offense.

We have solutions that can help you protect your loved ones, your business, and the global food supply chain.

At Sentinel Forge Technologies, we focus on providing assertive security monitoring and threat detection services for farmers and agribusinesses with our Secure Sentinel Network, or SSN. 

At the core of our SSN, the Sentinel Box is a no-touch early warning system for detecting bad cyber actors trespassing on your private digital property. 

We understand the risks you face in a technology world filled with cyber threats, like ransomware.

Our goal is to bring advanced cybersecurity solutions to Maryland’s agricultural supply chain. Together we can keep our state and our nation’s farmers, businesses, families, and food supply safe from cybercriminals.

But what exactly can you do to protect yourself?

We’re offering incentives for individuals, businesses, and farmers to join the SSN today. Sentinel Forge Technologies is here to earn your business the old-fashioned way—by earning your trust and confidence.

Call us at (443) 991-8280 or get in touch Online Today.

Remember, with cybersecurity, forewarned is forearmed!

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