US meat producer confirms paying ransom to hackers


Major American meat producer, JBS USA has confirmed that it paid an equivalent of $11 million in ransom in response to the criminal hack against its operations last week.

JBS USA, headquartered 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, reports Xinhua news agency.

It said in a statement on 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reportedly attributed the JBS attack to REvil, a Russian-speaking group.

But the Russian government has denied any involvement in cyberattacks like the JBS hack, calling these allegations “groundless”.

“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,” Andre Nogueira, Chief Executive Officer of JBS USA, was quoted as saying 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 US.

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 8,800 km of fuel pipeline for days last month.

The US 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.