The world’s largest meatpacking company, JBS disclosed it paid $11 million in Bitcoin to hackers who organized a ransomware attack against its computer systems last month. The corporation is the latest in a string of high-profile establishments targeted by cybercriminals.
The company’s chief executive, Andre Nogueira stated that it was a tough decision for JBS.“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally. However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers”, Nogueira said.
JBS Brazil Paid Ransomware Hackers in Bitcoin
On May 30, a ransomware attack pushed the Sao Paulo-based meat giant to cease its activities across North America and Australia. The attack resulted in the stoppage of the company’s slaughter operations, which forced one of Canada’s largest beef plants to pause its activities. To put it in perspective, JBS is responsible for nearly a quarter of America’s meat supplies.
The global disruption alerted the agricultural sector. Now, concerns are mounting over the security of the world’s food supply as extortionists continue to exploit the vulnerable system.
JBS has reported that its plants have resumed their activities and production is expected to recover the losses by the end of this week. Security researchers believe that the hack was performed by the group REvil, which has ties to Russia.
White House Spokesperson Discourages Companies From Paying Hackers
Addressing the growing number of cybercrimes, a White House National Security Council spokesperson said late on Wednesday that “private companies should not pay the ransom. It encourages and enriches these malicious actors, continues the cycle of these attacks, and there is no guarantee companies get their data back.” The spokesperson called for increased cooperation between government agencies and private entities to “put in place the cybersecurity defenses to meet the threat.”
JBS isn’t the only corporation to pay hackers. Last month, Colonial Pipeline paid 75 bitcoins, equivalent to $4.4 million, in ransom after a cyber attack compelled it to halt operations of the largest fuel pipeline in the US.
Later, authorities recovered nearly 64 bitcoins, estimated to be worth $2.3 million, from a virtual wallet. Law enforcement authorities emphasized that they’re capable of tracking digital payments, even if the attack was organized beyond the country’s borders.
The recent spike in ransomware attacks has pushed lawmakers to seek more transparency in ransom payments. Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Mark warner maintains that it is worth debating if ransom payments should be made illegal since they perpetuate the problem further.