CACTUS, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — JBS meatpacking plants are getting back to normal after a cyberattack over the weekend. Now, local experts said it could have been a much bigger problem for our food supply and local economy.
The Associated Press reported REvil was responsible for the attack. REvil, a Russian-speaking gang, has made other large ransom demands in recent months. The AP said the ransomware hit JBS’ servers in North America and Australia, forcing a halt in production at some plants, including in Cactus.
“Fortunately, for JBS, their backup systems were not affected by the ransomware attack,” Information Security Officer at Amarillo National Bank, David Melear.
“Well, anytime that a major company goes has a ransomware attack and it goes offline for a period of time, you’re going to see the interruption of services, depending on what the company provides,” Melear said. “And unless they have a good backup system in place, it could be 5,6,7 days to several weeks.”
Vice President of Commerical Loans at ANB, Brad Johnson, said being offline for much longer could have been disastrous for the Amarillo area.
Johnson said JBS accounts for about 25% of all beef sales in the U.S.
“So you could look and see a tremendous backup in all industries, which could ultimately lead to some type of a shortage,” said Johnson. “But a prolonged type of backup could be detrimental.”
Johnson said a longer shutdown could have caused a backlog of cattle ready to be processed at JBS plants but we likely will not see many ripple effects from this attack.
“[It] should not be a big consequence but it, you know, it does remind us of an industry that’s consolidated as the packing industry, somebody that’s doing 25% of your slaughter, not just here in the Panhandle, but nation, worldwide, it shows how vulnerable we are,” Johnson continued.
He said a backlog of cattle can be costly for feed yards and meatpackers, which could result in a higher price for consumers.
“I think the biggest thing for them to understand is not to panic. They do a good job of having food out there, sold out front,” Johnson went on. “Long term, you know, I don’t think it’s anything we can do as a consumer as much as it is just trying to see what type of diversification we could get in the packing industry.”
JBS said on Wednesday night that they are on schedule to resume production at all of their facilities on Thursday. The company also said it is not aware of any customer, supplier, or employee data being compromised.