By Dilia Narduzzi
In June of 2021, the world’s largest meat packer, JBS, was hit with a ransomware attack which shuttered plants in Canada, the US, and Australia. After news of the attack became public, the company admitted to paying $11 million to the Russian group who took responsibility, REvil. While the amount paid is likely a drop in the bucket for a company that sells in the billions, this is still a cautionary note that food companies’ computer systems need to upgrade their technologies to protect themselves and, by extension, the global food system. This may be the largest attack to date, but JBS isn’t the only food company that recently had ransomware installed in its systems. Other food companies suspected to have been hit with ransomware include Molson Coors, food supplier Edward Don, and beverage company Arizona Beverages, famous for its iced teas.
Ransomware is “a special kind of malware – bad stuff that gets into your computer. Ransomware either encrypts your files or appears to encrypt your files,” says Thomas Patrick Keenan, a Fellow of Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.