Meat company pays US$11m ransom to resolve cyber attack

Meat company pays US$11m ransom to resolve cyber attack


PRETORIA – Brazilian meat company JBS’s United States division has paid US$11 million in ransom to put an end to a major cyber attack on its computer network system that occurred last week, the BBC reported on Thursday, citing the company’s chief executive.

The payment was reportedly made using Bitcoin after plants had come back online, the British broadcaster reported.

JBS said it was necessary to pay the hackers in order to protect customers.

“It was very painful to pay the criminals, but we did the right thing for our customers,” chief executive of JBS USA, Andre Nogueira, was quoted as saying.

Nogueira said the company paid the money because of the sophistication of the attack.

Last week, JBS operations were temporarily shut in Australia, Canada and the US, affecting thousands of workers.

In a ransomware attack, hackers get into a computer network and threaten to cause disruption or delete files unless a ransom is paid.

The Brazilian meat company told the US that a ransomware attack on its computer networks originated from a criminal organisation likely based in Russia, Al Jazeera reported.

In May, fuel delivery in the south-east of the US was crippled for several days after a ransomware attack targeted Colonial Pipeline. Investigators said that the attack was also linked to a group with ties to Russia, CNN reported.

Colonial Pipeline paid a US$4.4-million ransom to the cybercriminal gang.

However on Monday, the US Department of Justice announced in a statement that it had recovered approximately US$2.3 million in Bitcoins paid to individuals in a criminal hacking group known as DarkSide.

“Following the money remains one of the most basic yet powerful tools we have,” said Deputy Attorney-General Lisa Monaco for the US Department of Justice.

“Ransom payments are the fuel that propels the digital extortion engine, and today’s announcement demonstrates that the United States will use all available tools to make these attacks more costly and less profitable for criminal enterprises.

“We will continue to target the entire ransomware ecosystem to disrupt and deter these attacks. Today’s announcements also demonstrate the value of early notification to law enforcement. We thank Colonial Pipeline for quickly notifying the FBI when they learnt that they were targeted by DarkSide,” Monaco added.

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