Cedar Rapids butcher fears cyber hack will raise meat prices

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 7:24 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -JBS, one of the world’s largest meat processing plants, was running at close to full capacity on Thursday after a cyberattack over the weekend, but the problems exposed from this attack are far from resolved.

The FBI says REvil, a Russian-speaking gang is behind the attack. They have made some of the biggest ransomware demands in recent months. In October, REvil had said the agriculture sector would be their main target and threatened to auction off sensitive stolen data from victims who refuse to pay them.

It’s not known if JBS, which has locations in Marshalltown, Ottumwa and Council Bluffs -- paid a ransom. President Biden says he will be confronting Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin about this when they meet in Europe in two weeks.

Jonathan More, the President of Nelson’s Meat Market in Cedar Rapids, says the hack may drive up his prices. This comes as beef prices are going up already because of summer demand.

They like to buy their meat before the summer rush. They say doing this beats the summer rush and stops them from raising prices. But the JBS hack is spoiling their plans.

“We don’t purchase from them [JBS] directly,” said Moore. “However, that affects the entire supply chain, because people will be working on the supply chain that I utilize, so everybody will be affected by that…It makes me sick to my stomach when I have to increase prices to my customers.”

Moore hopes it will be a short-term increase, but he wants a long-term fix to prevent future cyber-attacks.

“We at least look into the food chain to make sure they make some protection into these types of hack,” he said. “Because all it does is cause strain for everybody else around the country.”

Workers with the cybersecurity firm ProCircular in Coralville say, just like the Colonial Pipeline breach, which stopped the flow of oil for days in the Southeast United States, hackers see money in targeting companies. They threaten to leak info unless the company pays them. ProCircular says it’s best not to pay.

“You’re giving the attackers and these nation-state groups, that are already well funded, even more funds,” said Brandon Potter with ProCircular.

Moore says they will deal with the bump, however you slice it.

“You gotta play the game and see what you can do to keep that supply chain moving,” he said.

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