JBS paid $11M in ransom to cyberattack group

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File photo: The Greeley JBS meat packing plant sits idle on April 16, 2020 in Greeley, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — JBS USA said it paid cyber attackers $11 million in response to a hack that shut down the largest meat supplier in the world.

According to the press release, the vast majority of the company’s facilities were operational when the ransom was paid.

“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said Andre Nogueira, CEO, JBS USA. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”

The cybercriminal group responsible is “one of the most specialized and sophisticated” in the world, the FBI said.

The attack targeted servers supporting JBS’s operations in North America and Australia. Production was disrupted for several days.

Earlier 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 operation to seize cryptocurrency reflected a rare victory in the fight against ransomware as U.S. officials scramble to confront a rapidly accelerating threat targeting critical industries around the world.

It wasn’t immediately clear if 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.

Forensic investigations are still ongoing, but the company doesn’t believe any company, customer or employee data was compromised.

The Associated Press contributed to this post.

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