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Brief: Meat giant JBS pays $11m bitcoin ransom to ‘Russia-linked’ cyberattackers

June 10, 2021

  • The US unit of JBS, the world’s biggest meat processing firm, has paid the equivalent of $11 million in cryptocurrency — reportedly bitcoin — to a group who hacked its IT infrastructure last week.
  • The ransomware attack brought JBS’s animal slaughtering operations in Australia and North America to a halt for at least a day, leading to the prospect of severe disruption to global food supplies. However, operations recovered “faster than some meat buyers and analysts expected,” Reuters reports.
  • “This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA, said in a statement. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”

Why it matters:

Ransomware works by encrypting its target’s data and rendering it inaccessible to them. The perpetrators then offer the victim a key to ‘unlock’ their data in return for a ransom.

After Brazil-headquartered JBS raised the alarm last week, reports suggested that a “Russia-linked hacking group” known as ‘REvil and Sodinokibi’ was behind the attack.

JBS said in a statement that forensic probes into the attack are being carried out by third parties and that “preliminary investigation results confirm that no company, customer, or employee data was compromised.”

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