Meat producer confirms paid ransom to hackers

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LOS ANGELES, (Xinhua) — Major meat producer JBS USA confirmed on Wednesday that the company paid an equivalent of 11 million U.S. dollars in ransom in response to the criminal hack against its operations last week.

JBS USA, with headquarters in Greeley, Colorado, had to temporarily halt production at its beef plants across the country following the ransomware attack, as its computer systems in North America and Australia were severely affected by the attack.

The company said in a statement Wednesday that the vast majority of the company’s facilities were operational at the time of payment.

“In consultation with internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts, the company made the decision to mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated,” said the company.


The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reportedly attributed the JBS attack to REvil, a Russian-speaking gang. But the Russian government has denied any involvement in cyberattacks like the JBS hack, calling these allegations “groundless,” according to Forbes.

“The FBI stated this is one of the most specialized and sophisticated cybercriminal groups in the world,” noted JBS USA.

The company said it “has maintained constant communications with government officials throughout the incident” and “preliminary investigation results confirm that no company, customer or employee data was compromised.”

“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” noted Andre Nogueira, chief executive officer of JBS USA in the statement.

“However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers,” he added.

Brazil-based JBS is the world’s biggest meat supplier. According to the company’s official website, JBS USA is the No.1 beef producer in the United States. It’s also the No. 2 pork and poultry producer in the country.

The attack against JBS came after another high-profile ransomware attack targeting Colonial Pipeline, which forced the company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles (8,800 kilometers) of fuel pipeline for days last month.

The U.S. government concluded that the Russian government was not involved in the attack against Colonial Pipeline, while indicating the criminals behind the hack were living in Russia.

U.S. President Joe Biden said last month that he would raise the cybercrime issue in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders will hold their first summit in Geneva, Switzerland on June 16.