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Ky. Beef Council says people shouldn’t worry about cyberattack on world’s largest meat processor

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 5:29 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - For the second time in a matter of weeks, a cyberattack has disrupted critical US production - this time, the world’s largest meat processing company, JBS.

The people responsible for Kentucky’s beef say they don’t want people to worry about the recent cyberattack.

“I just remind folks that the beef supply chain is strong,” said Nathan Lawson with the Kentucky Beef Council. “We responded quickly and well in the early stages of the pandemic to get beef back in the meat case and make sure those shelves were stocked.”

Lawson told us the demand for beef was already starting to pick up, with restaurants getting back to full speed. Local retailers say prices were also rising well before that cyberattack.

“They’ve probably doubled in the past two months on chicken,” said Mark Critchfield with Critchfield Meats. “Beef, on certain cuts, have gone way up, like your tenderloins, ribeyes, strips. Any steak cuts.

Critchfield Meats has a retail store, but they also deliver to about 600 restaurants locally. Critchfield told us he found out about the attack firsthand.

“I just remind folks that the beef supply chain is strong,” said Nathan Lawson with the...
“I just remind folks that the beef supply chain is strong,” said Nathan Lawson with the Kentucky Beef Council. “We responded quickly and well in the early stages of the pandemic to get beef back in the meat case and make sure those shelves were stocked.”(WKYT)

“I got a call from one of my poultry suppliers. I pick up from Pilgrim out of Mayfield, Kentucky twice a week and I had to turn my truck around because they were closed down because of the cyberattack,” Critchfield said.

Cybersecurity experts say those attacks are more common than we realize.

Most of these incidents occur and nobody ever hears about them,” said Wil Winstead, 46Solutions. “Nobody hears about the small business with 10 people they got attacked and maybe even lost their business over it.”

That’s why it’s so important to have employees trained on what’s suspicious, and what isn’t.

“Anybody who has an email account should be worried about it, anybody who has a bank account online,” Winstead said. “Any of those things. Anybody who has a business. We are all vulnerable to it.”

As those processors get back online, there is some worry it could cause those high prices to rise even further. Mark Critchfield told us he doesn’t think that’ll happen.

“I don’t anticipate the price is going up much more if at all,” Critchfield said. “Unless, unless there’s a panic and people start hoarding. Which, that could cause it, but I would advise people not to hoard. I think there’s plenty of meat out there.”

Winstead said about 80% of these attacks start through email.

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