The largest beef producer in the United States, JBS, said it paid $11 million in ransom via bitcoin after a major cyberattack on its computer systems forced it temporarily to shut down many of its slaughterhouses in May.
Despite the fact that at the time of payment, the vast majority of the company’s facilities were operational and no company or customer data was compromised, JBS said internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts advised it to pay the money to ensure data was not taken and company operations could continue.
The White House said earlier this month that JBS had informed it that a Russian criminal hacking organization, REvil, was likely responsible for the attack on the company.
“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA, in a press release. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”
Nogueira, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, confirmed the ransom payment was made using bitcoin, the popular cryptocurrency that is pseudo-anonymous.
He added that the money was paid because the company wasn't sure the hackers couldn't find another way to attack them.
The world's largest meat producer said the FBI had confirmed the ransomware attack was conducted by "one of the most specialized and sophisticated cybercriminal groups in the world."
JBS said it spends more than $200 million every year on computer systems and employs more than 850 IT professionals globally.
The company said that it took swift action after it learned of the cyberattack and its IT team worked nonstop for 24 hours after the attack to ensure its systems were restored so that its beef, pork, and poultry food plants were operational again.
The Brazilian meat giant's five biggest beef plants in the U.S., which handle over 20,000 cattle every day, had stopped meat processing in late May, according to company statements and Facebook posts after the cyberattack.
The U.S. is on high alert regarding cyberattacks after a hacking group, known to be from Eastern Europe, shut down one of the country's critical sources of energy, the Colonial Pipeline, which significantly slowed gas delivery on the East Coast last month.
Washington Examiner Videos
Original Author: Nihal Krishan
Original Location: JBS meat producer paid $11M in ransom after hackers shut down factory