(Reuters) – JBS SA employees returned to US meat factories on Wednesday, a day after the company's beef business ended after a ransomware attack.
A notorious Russian-linked hacking group is behind the cyber attack on JBS that disrupted meat production in North America and Australia, said a source familiar with the matter.
Brazil's JBS controls about 20% of the slaughter capacity of American cattle and pigs, so the plants that are starting to resume should prevent a serious supply chain disruption even if it was unclear when all plants would return to normal operation.
Plants are expected to return to full capacity in the next few days, said officials at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents over 25,000 JBS meat packaging workers. [1
The cyber attack followed one last month by a group of ties to Russia on the Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel line in the United States, which paralyzed the supply of fuel for several days in the southeastern United States.
It is the third major attack this year linked to Russia, and White House Press Minister Jen Psaki said on Wednesday that the JBS hack was expected to be discussed at the mid-June summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We do not take any options from the table as to how we can respond, but there is of course an internal political review process to consider, we also have direct contact with the Russians to convey our concern over these reports," she added.
"President Biden truly believes that President Putin and the Russian government have a role to play in stopping and preventing these from being thanked. "
The Russian cyber gang goes by the name REvil," the source said.
Cybersecurity investigators have previously said they believe some members of the REvil ransomware team are based in Russia. The productive ransomware group, which is perhaps best known for attacking a supplier of Apple Inc. called Quanta Computer earlier this year, has previously published Russian on cybercrime forums and markets stolen data.
In the Quanta Computer case, the hackers sent blackmail. threatened and demanded a payment of $ 50 million for the company to regain access to its systems.
In recent years, ransomware has developed into an urgent national security issue. A number of gangs, many of them Russian speakers, develop the software that encrypts files and then demand payment in cryptocurrency for keys that allow the owners to decrypt and use them again.
Scrambling for beef
] With North American operations headquartered in Greeley, Colorado, JBS sells beef and pork under the Swift brand, with retailers such as Costco Wholesale wearing its pork loins and inner filters.
USA Prices for beef and pork are already rising as China increases imports, animal feed costs rise and slaughterhouses have faced labor shortages since COVID-19 outbreaks shut down many US meat factories.
"It will probably be quite close in the next few days because even though they (JBS) will start opening, they say today, who knows how to drive," says Altin Kalo, economist at Steiner Consulting Group. "There are a lot of people who encrypt (for beef deliveries)."
U.S. meat packers on Wednesday slaughtered 12.5% fewer cattle than a week earlier and 8% less than a year earlier, although slaughter increased by about 12% from Tuesday, according to estimates from the US Department of Agriculture.
JBS also owns most of the chicken. processor Pilgrim & # 39 ;s Pride Co., which sells organic chicken under the Just Bare brand.
The company's operations in Brazil, Mexico and the United Kingdom were not affected by the attack, JBS said.
JBS interrupted an early shift on Wednesday. at its beef factory in Greeley, but a later shift was scheduled to resume normally, said representatives of UFCW Local 7. Plant Safety also said the second shift worked.
A JBS beef plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, told its Facebook workers that it would resume normal schedules in all departments.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle futures rose on Wednesday after tumbling on Tuesday when JBS shutdowns prevented farmers from delivering their livestock to slaughterhouses.
The attack drew attention to the concentrated beef sector in the United States, where four companies, including JBS, slaughtered over 80% of fed cattle and slaughter suspensions. Plants have a serious impact on the prices that farms get paid for their livestock.
"The Department of Justice needs to take a serious look at the meat packaging industry, and if it does not, Congress must implement reforms that protect a fair and open livestock market," wrote U.S. senators led by Republican Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Democrat Tina Smith of Minnesota in a letter to Justice Minister Merrick Garland.