Cyberattack Hits World’s Largest Meat Processing Company JBS, Production Disrupted

CANBERRA, Australia—Thousands of Australian meat workers had no work for a second day on Tuesday after a cyberattack crippled the world’s largest meat processing company. A government minister said it might be days before production resumes.

JBS is also Australia’s largest meat and food processing company, with 47 facilities across the country including abattoirs, feedlots, and meat processing sites. JBS employs around 11,000 people.

JBS USA said in a statement from Greeley, Colorado, on Monday that it was the target on Sunday of an “organized cybersecurity attack” affecting some of its servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems.

“The company’s backup servers were not affected and it is actively working with an Incident Response firm to restore its systems as soon as possible,” the statement said.

Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the government and Australian Federal Police were working with JBS to resolve the problems and to pursue those responsible.

“Despite the fact that JBS accounts for around 20 percent of our processing production here in Australia, we’re not expecting there to be significant impacts on exports so long as this isn’t a protracted shutdown,” Littleproud said on Tuesday.

“We’re also working with JBS right here in Australia to make sure that we can get some limited capacity up and going in the next couple of days. JBS have been very proactive in that,” he said.

Littleproud said it was too early to say whether it was a ransomware attack or who might be responsible.

Australian staff learned of the attack when they were turned away from their workplaces on Monday.

JBS exports about 70 percent of what it produces in Australia. But Australia and New Zealand account for only four percent of the company’s global revenue.

Several consignments of cattle in Queensland state were canceled at short notice and cattle trucks were turned around, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

“We had to send them up on Sunday afternoon and then we got the message in the morning that they’d have to cancel the train because the meatworks was going to be shutting for an indefinite amount of time,” Queensland cattle rancher Colin Baker told ABC.

“We had a wasted day … because mustering the cattle, sorting them out, and then trucking them up there and then we had to bring them home today and let them all go again,” Baker added.

By Rod Mcguirk