JBS pays $11 million ransom following cyber attack

The White House says a Russian state-backed hacking group was behind the ransomware attack

JBS Foods has paid an $11 million (£7.8 million) ransom to hackers who had compromised its IT systems late last month, the firm confirmed on Wednesday.

The company, which is the largest processor of meat in the world and produces close to a quarter of the US' beef, fell victim to a ransomware attack orchestrated by unknown actors on 30 May. The firm was forced to suspend all affected systems and, in some areas, shut down production for 24 hours.

On 3 June, JBS announced that the attack had been resolved and that all of its systems were operational again, adding that there was no evidence to suspect that "any customer, supplier or employee data [had] been compromised or misused as a result of the situation".

Despite the attack coming to an end, the company has now confirmed that it had made a ransom payment to the attackers, totalling $11 million (£7.8 million) in Bitcoin.

JBS US CEO Andre Nogueira described the decision as a "difficult" one to make.

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

JBS also confirmed in a statement that "at the time of payment, the vast majority of the company's facilities were operational".

The decision had been reached in consultation with JBS' internal IT professionals as well as third-party cyber security experts in order to "mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated."

However, it also reiterated that "preliminary investigation results confirm that no company, customer or employee data was compromised" in the attack.

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Last week, the White House attributed blame for the attack to a Russian state-backed hacking group, described by the FBI as "one of the most specialised and sophisticated cybercriminal groups in the world".

This prompted President Joe Biden to issue a warning to Russia on Thursday:

"The United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities," he said as he arrived in the UK for the G7 summit, as part of his first overseas trip as president.

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