A new market disruption is occurring on grocery store shelves. In the coming weeks, just as flu season begins, shoppers may be looking at empty rooms that once housed their Clorox cleaning supplies.

This time the culprit is not the pandemic, but a cyberattack.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, the Clorox Company said it discovered unauthorized activity on some of its information technology systems and was forced to process orders manually. The slower pace of operations is having an impact on the availability of its products, it said.

“The cybersecurity attack damaged portions of the company’s IT infrastructure, resulting in widespread disruption to Clorox’s operations,” it said. The company said it discovered the breach on August 11 and disclosed it in an SEC filing three days later.

Clorox, a publicly traded company, said it expects to return to automated order fulfillment next week. The company has resumed production “at the vast majority of its production sites and expects to ramp up to full production over time.”

However, no estimate was given as to how long it would take for the situation to return to normal. The cyberattack, it said, “has caused and is expected to continue to cause disruption to portions of the Company’s business operations.”

Clorox isn’t the only one reporting cyberattacks lately. Last week, casino and hotel chain MGM Resorts International announced that some of its online systems were affected by a “cybersecurity issue” that caused disruptions for customers, particularly in Las Vegas.

Other cyberattacks around the world affected a gasoline pipeline, hospitals, grocery chains and one of the world’s largest meat processors.

Such attacks have contributed to turmoil in the consumer goods market, exacerbated by the pandemic, and led to panic buying of toilet paper, cleaning products and household staples. Consumers have struggled with recalls, supply chain problems and labor problems that exacerbated baby formula shortages and led to shortages of items such as lumber and computer chips. Bird flu was a factor in high egg prices earlier this year.

Clorox’s cybersecurity problems are expected to affect access to some of the company’s most popular products, including its wipes and cleaning products like Pine-Sol, just as consumer concerns about flu season arise. Seasonal influenza viruses are detected year-round in the United States, but they typically continue to circulate during the fall and winter.

“We have resumed production, initiated certain shipments and remain in constant contact with customers about their immediate needs,” Clorox said Tuesday in a written response to questions. However, the company added that it could not quantify the amounts due to delays and product failures.

Source : www.nytimes.com

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