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World’s largest meat supplier JBS hit by cyber-attack

The group hopes to get back to normal by Wednesday, though there might be disruption in the meat market as a whole

Cranswick PLC - World’s largest meat supplier JBS hit by cyber-attack

JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier, has been hit by a cyber-attack that caused operations in Australia, Canada and the US to temporarily shut down.

The group’s IT systems were suspended on Monday with hopes to be back to normal on Wednesday, while FBI investigations are ongoing.

READ: How companies can protect themselves from Microsoft Exchange Server threats

"JBS notified [the White House] that the ransom demand came from a criminal organisation likely based in Russia," a White House spokeswoman was reported as saying by the BBC.

"The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbour ransomware criminals.”

A ransomware attack is when hackers demand a payment or otherwise they will cause disruption or delete files.

Last month, US fuel company Colonial Pipeline ended up paying a US$4.4mln (£3.1mln) ransom after an attack severely hampered operations, even though the authorities advise not to do so.

“The company is not aware of any evidence at this time that any customer, supplier or employee data has been compromised or misused as a result of the situation,” JBS’s US arm said on Monday.

“Resolution of the incident will take time, which may delay certain transactions with customers and suppliers.”

The company’s five largest plants are in the US, where one fifth of meat production has been affected.

Trade body Beef Central said the resultant boxed meat is more likely to remain on the domestic market than go into export, because of challenges in shipping documentation, labelling, inventory and other record keeping without IT and computer support.

Supermarkets and other large end-users like the McDonald’s burger pattie supply network will be some of the most immediately impacted customers, due to their need for consistent supply, if the current stoppage lasts for any significant length of time.

There has been little or no impact seen in cattle prices or meat prices since the crime was disclosed, Beef Central added, although if operations are disrupted for longer the impact “will be far more profound”.

In this case, other companies may benefit if they are called in to make up for the shortfall.

UK-based pork products specialist Cranswick PLC (LON:CWK) rose 1% to 4,018p while food packaging group Hilton Food Group plc (LON:HFG) was flat at 1,172p on Wednesday morning.

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