JBS has paid the equivalent of $11 million in ransom to resolve a cyberattack that temporarily shut down its meat processing operations in North America and Australia.
On 30 May, JBS determined that it was the target of an organised cybersecurity attack, which affected some of the servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems.
JBS was forced to stop production at its US plants for a day – a move that could threaten to disrupt food supply chains or raise prices for consumers.
However, the meat producer says that its encrypted backup servers – which were not infected during the attack – allowed for a return to operations sooner than expected.
While the ‘vast majority’ of its operations have now been restored, the Brazilian company made the payment (reportedly in bitcoin) to mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated.
According to JBS, the FBI said the attack was carried out by “one of the most specialised and sophisticated cybercriminal groups in the world”. Several publications have reported that the White House believes the organisation behind the cyberattack is probably based in Russia.
“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”
The company’s operations in Mexico and the UK were not impacted by the ransomware attack and continued to conduct business as normal.
According to JBS, third-party forensic investigations are still ongoing and no final determinations have been made. The statement concluded that preliminary investigation results confirm that no company, customer or employee data was compromised.
Last year, J&F Investimentos – the parent company of JBS – paid $128.25 million in criminal fines after pleading guilty to US foreign bribery charges.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2021
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