Meat company JBS confirms it paid $11-million ransom in cyberattack
The world’s largest meat processing company says it paid the equivalent of $11 million to hackers who broke into its computer system late last month.
JBS said May 31 that it was the victim of a ransomware attack, but Wednesday was the first time the Brazilian company’s U.S. division confirmed that it had paid the ransom.
“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said Andre Nogueira, chief executive of JBS USA. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”
JBS said the vast majority of its facilities were operational at the time it made the payment, but it decided to pay in order to avoid any unforeseen issues and ensure no data was exfiltrated.
The FBI has attributed the attack to REvil, a Russian-speaking gang that has made some of the largest ransomware demands on record in recent months. The FBI said it will work to bring the group to justice, and it urged anyone who is the victim of a cyberattack to contact the bureau immediately.
The hacking group DoppelPaymer appears to have infiltrated computers in the 63-officer Azusa Police Department.
The attack targeted servers supporting JBS’s operations in North America and Australia. Production was disrupted for several days.
This week, the Justice Department announced it had recovered most of a multimillion-dollar ransom payment made by Colonial Pipeline, the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline.
Colonial paid a ransom of 75 bitcoin — then valued at $4.4 million — in early May to a Russia-based hacker group. The cryptocurrency seizure reflected a rare victory in the fight against ransomware as U.S. officials scramble to confront a rapidly accelerating threat targeting crucial industries around the world.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether JBS also paid its ransom in bitcoin.
JBS said it spends more than $200 million annually on IT and employs more than 850 IT professionals globally.
The company said forensic investigations are still in progress, but it doesn’t believe any company, customer or employee data was compromised.