The world’s largest meat processing company said it paid the equivalent of $11 million to hackers who broke into its computer system late last month.
Brazil-based JBS said May 31 that it was the victim of a ransomware attack, but Wednesday was the first time the company’s U.S. division confirmed it paid the ransom.
“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”
JBS said the majority of its facilities were operational at the time it made the payment, but it decided to pay to avoid unforeseen issues and ensure no data was removed.
The FBI attributed the attack to REvil, a Russian-speaking gang that has made some of the largest ransomware demands on record. The FBI said it will work to bring the group to justice, and it urged cyberattack victims to contact the bureau immediately.
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The attack targeted servers supporting JBS operations in North America and Australia. Production was disrupted for several days.
This week, the Justice Department announced it 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 – 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 confront a rapidly accelerating threat targeting critical industries around the world.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether JBS paid its ransom in bitcoin.
JBS said it spends more than $200 million annually on IT and employs more than 850 IT professionals globally.
The company said forensic investigations are ongoing, but it doesn’t believe any company, customer or employee data was compromised.