Big Beef targeted, shut down by massive cyberattack

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Packages of red meat at a grocery store
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (Getty Images)

The largest meat producer in the world, JBS S.A., fell victim to a ransomware cyberattack this past weekend, Bloomberg reports. This forced a massive shutdown of all of its U.S beef production, halting output from facilities that supply nearly 25% of American meat supplies. Every JBS beef plant was forced to close, and every one of the company’s meatpacking facilities in the country experienced some form of disruption to its operations, according to an official within the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

It wasn’t just the U.S. that got hit: slaughter operations in Australia were also down, and a Canadian beef plant was sidelined. I imagine a lot of things, but I never saw our dystopian future heading into a timeline where we’d all be kicked in the beef.

It looks like American commodities are the new target of hackers after Colonial Pipeline Co., operator of the biggest U.S. gasoline pipeline, was also successfully crippled in a ransomware attack. The attack on JBS appears to have originated in Russia.


The backup servers were fine, and JBS is working off those systems to restore operations as soon as possible. (This should serve as an important reminder to back up your work, everyone!) Grocery store prices won’t be affected (yet), but there’s no telling what will happen if the shutdown continues much longer. This makes me wonder what other food industries might be in the crosshairs next. Hey, bad guys, if you’re listening, please spare the cheese industry. I can’t live without cheese.