Meat Supplier JBS Paid $11 Million in BITCOIN to Hackers Who Shut Down Its Factories

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America’s largest beef supplier JBS paid a ransom of $11 million in Bitcoin to the hackers who closed its factories in the United States, it has been revealed.

Andre Nogueira, the CEO of the Brazilian company’s US division, said: The Wall Street Journal in an interview that the payment was made after most JBS factories were already operational again as ‘insurance to protect our customers’.

He added: “It was very painful to pay the criminals, but we did the right thing for our customers.”

Nogueira said JBS learned of the attack early on May 30 after discovering “irregularities” on its servers and a ransom note.

The company immediately began shutting down its computer servers — shutting down meat production systems at its U.S. plants — before the plants were back up and running four days later.

JBS also released a press release detailing the payment, noting that it “made the decision to mitigate unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated.”

“This was a very difficult decision for our company and for me personally. However, we felt that this decision should be made to avoid potential risks to our customers,” Nogueira said in the press release.

America's largest beef supplier JBS paid a ransom of $11 million in bitcoin to the hackers who closed its factories in the United States

America’s largest beef supplier JBS paid a ransom of $11 million in bitcoin to the hackers who closed its factories in the United States

Andre Nogueira, the CEO of the Brazilian company's US division, said JBS learned of the attack early on May 30.

Andre Nogueira, the CEO of the Brazilian company’s US division, said JBS learned of the attack early on May 30.

The bitcoin payment was made after most of the JBS factories were already up and running

The bitcoin payment was made after most of the JBS factories were already up and running

JBS also released a press release detailing the payment, noting that it

JBS also released a press release detailing the payment, noting that it “made the decision to mitigate unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, JBS is the largest meat company in the world by revenue and the largest beef processor and a top supplier of chicken and pork in the United States.

Pilgrim’s Pride, a poultry processing subsidiary of JBS, was also hit by the ransomware attack, according to the paper.

FBI officials said last week they believed REvil, a Russia-based cybercrime, was behind the attack.

Last month, major gas transporter Colonial Pipeline also suffered a ransomware attack, paying about $4.4 million in bitcoin to the hacking group DarkSide, which started as a subsidiary of REvil, The New York Times reported.

The Justice Department recovered about $2.3 million in cryptocurrency ransom on Monday, paid by Colonial Pipeline, Reuters reported.

About his own hack, JBS wrote, “The FBI stated that this is one of the most specialized and sophisticated cybercriminal groups in the world.”

The meat supplier claimed it was able to “fix the problems quickly” because of the company’s cybersecurity protocols, redundant systems and encrypted backup servers. JBS spends more than $200 million annually on information technology and employs more than 850 IT professionals worldwide, according to the release.

“JBS USA has been in constant contact with government officials throughout the incident. Forensic investigation by third parties is still ongoing and no definitive findings have been made yet,” the press release reads.

The company noted that preliminary investigation results confirm that no company, customer or employee data has been compromised.

Nogueira told the Wall Street Journal that the company found the ransom note shortly after discovering its systems had been hacked on May 30.

He was notified of the hack at 5 a.m. by a phone call from his chief financial officer while he was traveling, Nogueira said, and the company quickly alerted the FBI.

The company made “good progress” in restoring operations, but cybersecurity consultants and JBS’s internal IT department noted there was no guarantee the hackers would not strike again while negotiations with REvil continued.

Noting that the company eventually decided to pay the ransom, Nogueira said, “We didn’t think we could take this kind of risk that something could go wrong in our recovery process.”

Cybersecurity experts have warned that the recent attacks on JBS and the colonial pipeline are a preview of things to come amid fears that hackers could target key infrastructure and further escalate tensions between the US and Russia.

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