Food processing company JBS USA Holdings has admitted that it paid an equivalent of USD 11 million to hackers. The company paid the amount was paid in Bitcoin after the plants of the company were knocked out by cybercriminals last week. The plants that were under attack by hackers process roughly one-fifth of the meat supply of the United States. According to the chief executive of the company, the payment was made to stop further disruption at JBS meat plants. The other important reason why the company decided to pay the ransom is that it wanted to limit the potential impact on grocery stores and restaurants that rely on meat products of the company, said Andre Nogueira. “It is very hard to pay the criminals. But we believe that it was the right thing for our customers,” Nogueira told a media house. He added that the company ensured that the payment is made only after the majority of JBS plants were back to normal and running again.
JBS has factories in Australia, American, and Europe. It is the largest meat company in the world by sales. The company process bee, poultry, and pork. JBS is the biggest processor of beef in the United States and the top supplier of pork and chicken. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp is the subsidiary of the JBS and was also the victim of a cyber attack. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp is the second-largest poultry processor in the United States, with the first being Tyson Foods Inc. The attack on JBS was part of the ransomware attack where hackers take control of the operating systems of companies to demand multimillion-dollar payments. Hackers had recently adopted the same procedure to demand about USD 4.4 million from Colonial Pipeline. The recent attacks show how attackers have shifted their target from data-rich companies to these businesses.
According to Nogueira, the company learned about the cyberattack on May 30, Sunday. They came to know about the attack after some company employees of the technology department notice irregularities in the functioning of some servers. Soon after that, they received a message demanding a ransom to regain access to the servers. Nogueira said that he got a call from the chief financial officer at around 5 am in the morning and was informed about the cyber attack. The technology team of the company swung into action and started shutting down systems to slow the attack’s advance. According to Nogueira, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was alerted immediately about the cyber attack. The FBI has attributed the attack to criminal ransomware gang REvil.