Cyberattacks are a real threat for any business and JBS, the meat processing giant based in Cactus, Texas, happens to be dealing with that right now. The hack brought production to a screeching halt, sent buyers scrambling, and could result in potential meat shortages as JBS does damage control.

But is it really under control? And at what cost?

There is at least one JBS employee who says the price for the ransomware attack was paid for by the paychecks of plant workers, with no clear promise of when or how they will receive their unpaid wages. A statement made all the more damning by the corporation's evasiveness on whether or not the ransom was paid.

Cyberattack on JBS

On May 30, JBS USA confirmed that an organized cybersecurity attack had taken place, compromising its servers and the IT systems. After news of the cyberattack broke, spokesmen for the company released statements to major media networks like CNN that they were working diligently to restore order:

"Our systems are coming back online and we are not sparing any resources to fight this threat"

By June 3rd, JBS stated that they had fully resumed operations.

However, they did not disclose whether it paid the ransom amount demanded by the attackers.

Who Will Pay The Price of JBS Cyberattack?

The statement released by JBS announcing the resolution of the cyberattack states that they were able to limit the company's losses to less than one days’ worth of production. An additional assertion that:

"Any lost production across the company’s global business will be fully recovered by the end of next week, limiting any potential negative impact on producers, consumers and the company’s workforce."


Nowhere in the press release is the issue of the cyberattack ransom addressed--specifically, whether or not it was paid. This conspicuous lack of clarification becomes more problematic when you consider the reports of unpaid wages from JBS workers--most of whom are minorities.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a employee with the plant in Cactus (60 miles north of Amarillo) stated that JBS expects employees to work Thursday and Friday as normal, run production on Saturday to make up for Memorial Day (categorized as scheduled downtime for JBS), but have remained deliberately unclear on how and when their workers would be paid for Tuesday.

The employee went on to add that the company has intentionally not addressed the outcry over a day of unpaid wages because they know their workforce of minorities and immigrants cannot up and leave. There are few other options for jobs that pay as well, and the large percentage of immigrants that make up JBS' workforce face numerous barriers that prevent them from taking recourse against workplace misconduct.

Think about it, would you tolerate your employer withholding a day of wages and refusing to address the discrepancy with you?


My Take: Something Isn't Right

Here's where things don't pass the sniff test for me.

Working on Saturday as to makeup for Memorial Day? Okay, fine.

Possibly having to work a Sunday shift to make up for cyberattack that was in no way shape or form my fault? That seems a little off to me.

It insinuates that possibly: JBS paid the cyberattack ransom out of employee payroll, and that is why they cannot and will not account for the missing day of wages. 

I could be wrong. And I hope I am. But that's the feeling I get over this.

In my opinion, they need to be paid. The hack was not the employees' fault; had it not occurred, it would have been business as usual. This is an an extenuating circumstance; union or not, these employees need to be taken care of, not having their wages held hostage.

Why in the world are the meat plant workers taking the brunt of the IT department's lack of security against hackers?

I would think that a company that provides 20% of the United State's meat supply would have insurance or cash on hand for an emergency just like this. Even if they paid the ransom which they seem to be quiet about.


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