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For the second time in as many months, a major part of America’s infrastructure has been held for ransom by cybercriminals. This time is was a hack of JBS, the nation’s largest beef producer, which was forced to take its largest processing facilities offline.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Laura Reiley, The Washington Post’s business of food reporter, about why the country’s meat supply chain is vulnerable, domino effects for the industry and what it all means for consumer prices.

Go deeper

Updated Jun 1, 2021 - Technology

Top meat supplier is the latest victim of a cyberattack

Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Major meat supplier JBS USA was the latest victim of an organized cybersecurity attack, with servers in North America and Australia impacted, the company said Sunday.

Why it matters: JBS USA is the largest producer of beef in the country, The Hill notes, and is a major supplier of poultry and pork. JBS’s five biggest beef plants — which collectively manage a total of 22,500 cattle per day — have paused processing after the weekend attack, according to JBS. The hack has led to one-fifth of U.S. beef production being wiped out, Bloomberg reports.

JBS to bring most plants online after ransomware attack

The JBS beef plant in Brooks, Alberta, Canada, on June 1. Photo: Alex Ramadan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

JBS SA told Bloomberg Tuesday that a "vast majority" of its plants will be operational Wednesday after a ransomware attack forced all of the company's beef plants in the U.S. to shut down.

Why it matters: The attack has raised fears of meat supply or pricing issues, similar to what happened to gas prices and availability after the ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline last month.

Ransomware business achieves critical mass

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Memorial Day weekend ransomware attack that left the world's largest meat processor hobbled also had CEOs around the globe asking, "Am I next?"

Why it matters: The attack on Brazil-based JBS came just weeks after a similar attack on Colonial Pipeline, the U.S.'s largest refined-fuel pipeline operator. Attacks that disrupt food and energy supplies are the kinds that rouse governments to strike back.