The Cyberattack on JBS Foods is More Important Than You Think

The Lempert Report
June 04, 2021

JBS is the world's largest beef and poultry producer and the second-largest global pork producer

Last weekend many Americans heated up their outdoor grills for the first time in months and prepared to invite friends and families to a more traditional Memorial Day BBQ than we saw last year. On the same day, JBS USA issued a press release confirming that it was the target of an organized cybersecurity attack, affecting some of the servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems, the day prior.

JBS is the world's largest beef and poultry producer and the second-largest global pork producer, with operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, to name just a few locations. The company employs over  245,000 people around the world, and markets under brand names  including Swift, Pilgrim's Pride, Seara, Moy Park, Friboi, Primo, and Just Bare to customers from 190 countries on six continents. The company and its supply chain was shut down. During the pandemic our shoppers were exposed to the frailty of the supply chain and this cyberattack, as did the earlier one which closed gas stations throughout the US, underscores the importance of changing the way we operate our businesses. Yes, there may always be hackers who for fun or money try to destroy what others have built – but the time has come for all food companies and food retailers to understand that we cannot put our industry at risk.

Every time a cyberattack happens millions of people are affected in many ways. We must invest in new systems, and not just computer systems, that lessen the impact. Many companies have insurance policies that cover the losses or ransom that is paid to these hackers – that’s not the solution; in fact many say it just empowers these attackers as it assures them of the fruits of their labors. We must unite as an industry and solve what could well be one of the biggest problems the food supply has ever faced – and before its too late. Can you imagine the mayhem that could occur if every food store and food production facility was shut down even for just a day? Throughout history we can point to the shortages of food as the cause for battle. We cannot let that happen.