JBS Foods attack shows how hackers target supply chains
Recently, JBS Foods, one of the world’s largest producers of meat, suffered a cyberattack, which is now shedding light on how cybercriminals are gaining access to supply chains as well as highlighting the need for solutions, prevention strategies, and cyber awareness in the supply chain industry.
The attack, which happened last weekend, affected the meat producer’s U.S. and Australian supply chain operations with JBS confirming in a statement that it is working alongside an incident response firm to restore its affected systems as soon as possible. The attack highlights the vulnerability and fragility of supply chains, two qualities that make attacks and threats on them highly attractive to cybercriminals.
Amit Yoran, Chief Executive Officer of Tenable and Founding Director US-CERT for DHS, said: “This is the most recent incident in a disturbing trend of cyberattacks that show just how fragile and vulnerable our supply chains and critical infrastructure are. The Colonial Pipeline attack shut down systems that supply 45% of the Eastern United States’ fuel, and the JBS hack has resulted in the shutdown of some of the largest meat processing plants in the world.
He adds that the long-term effects of this attack could be severe if JBS is not able to reboot its systems soon. “These attacks have very tangible impacts that affect large swaths of the population, and it’s possible that we’ll see disruption across the global supply chain if JBS’s systems stay offline for more than a few days”, said Yoran.
Understanding the risks and supply chain cybersecurity “is crucial”
Yaron emphasises that it is “crucial” that cyber risks, especially in critical business processes. "The foundation of our global food supply chains, transportation systems, and more are under attack because cybercriminals realise how disruptive and lucrative attacks targeting these systems can be. As more organisations undergo rapid digital transformation, we continue to see IT systems completely intertwined with operational technology (OT), which brings increased risk to critical infrastructure everywhere. We’ve been encouraged by the government's recent efforts to protect critical operational technology and control systems.
“It’s equally important that our critical infrastructure, supply chain and logistics providers exercise a standard of care to safeguard their systems and the people who rely on them”, Yoran points out.
Escalating concerns over the rise of cybercrime
There are increasing concerns that cybercrime is getting bigger and bigger, meaning that supply chains, as well as other industries, may only become more vulnerable unless action is taken.
Stel Valavanis, CEO of onShore Security, said: “What worries me is that cybercrime is possibly now getting big enough. It's getting big enough to crank up insurance rates. It's getting big enough to open up budgets. It's getting big enough to get lawmakers’ attention. It's getting big enough to shift the counter-efforts from private hands into law enforcement”.
Referencing the SolarWinds attack, Valavanis continued: “If there's anything the SolarWinds attack showed us, it's that the criminals can get way more serious and Colonial Pipeline showed us is that it's a stake close to the heart. We in the cybersecurity industry already know this and SolarWinds isn't even the scariest attack. But you all are starting to see it too”.
The JBS cyberattack has highlighted not just the importance of cybersecurity in the supply chain industry, but also how vital it is to understand how businesses can protect their supply chain operations from future cybercriminal activity.
Neil Jones, Cybersecurity Evangelist at Egnyte said: "The recent JBS cyberattack, along with the Colonial Pipeline and Apple/Quanta cyberattacks that preceded it, demonstrate that your organisation needs to make cybersecurity a Boardroom priority if you haven't done so already. For years, cybercriminals have attacked targets for financial gain, but now we're seeing an alarming pattern of debilitating attacks on our food, critical infrastructure, and IP supply chain, which can have a crippling impact across the US economy.
Jones also advises that businesses need to “implement proactive data hygiene and protective behaviors, such as patching your CVEs and hardening your databases now”.
You can read our article explaining supply chain attacks in more detail here.
Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force
The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration.
The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing.
“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said.
In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”.
In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips.
Support domestic production of critical medicines
- A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”.
- The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.
Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries
- The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”.
- The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”.
Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals
- An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”.
- The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.
Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages
- The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing.
- Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”.