Meatpacking giant JBS says paid $11m to hackers in ransomware attack

The American subsidiary of Brazilian meat processor JBS paid the equivalent of $11 million to ransomware extortionists to prevent any further disruption by the hackers, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

In this file photo taken on 2 June 2021 the JBS meat plant is viewed in Plainwell, Michigan. The CEO of Brazilian meat processor JBS said the company paid $11 million in bitcoin to ransomware extortionists to prevent any further disruption, an article in the Wall Street Journal reported on 9 June 2021. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - The American subsidiary of Brazilian meat processor JBS paid the equivalent of $11 million to ransomware extortionists to prevent any further disruption by the hackers, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

"JBS USA today confirmed it paid the equivalent of $11 million in ransom in response to the criminal hack against its operations," the company said, with US media reporting that the payment was made in bitcoin.

"At the time of payment, the vast majority of the company's facilities were operational," the statement said, adding that the company had gone ahead with the payment "to mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated."

President Joe Biden said last week the White House had linked Russia to the episode.

"JBS USA has maintained constant communications with government officials throughout the incident," the company said in its statement.

"Third-party forensic investigations are still ongoing, and no final determinations have been made. 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," said Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS's US division.

"However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers."

Ransomware hackers last month forced the temporary shutdown of the huge Colonial fuel pipeline in the eastern United States.

While Colonial Pipeline paid a $4.4 million ransom to Russia-based ransomware extortionists Darkside, the US Justice Department was able to recover more than half of that amount by tracking the bitcoin payment as it moved through multiple anonymous transfers and eventually seizing it from a cryptocurrency wallet.

Brazil-based JBS is a sprawling meat supplier with operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, Mexico, New Zealand and Britain.

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