JBS paid hackers $ 11 million after hacking crippled meat factories

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(Bloomberg) – JBS USA says it has paid $ 11 million in ransom to the criminals responsible for the cyberattack that disrupted meat processing in North America and Australia, the latest high-profile example of large corporations being extorted .

“It was a very difficult decision for our company and for me personally,” Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA, said in a statement. “However, we felt that this decision should be taken to avoid any potential risk to our customers.”

The ransom payment was made in Bitcoin, according to a spokesperson for JBS Brazil.

“Private companies should not pay a ransom,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson said Wednesday evening, without mentioning JBS. “It encourages and enriches these malicious actors, continues the cycle of these attacks and there is no guarantee that companies will recover their data. “

The spokesperson reiterated his calls for more cooperation between the government and the private sector to deter ransomware attacks and for companies to “put cybersecurity defenses in place to deal with the threat.”

The $ 11 million win was split and sent to two addresses, a common feature of third-party extortion software where the developer gets a cut, said Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, which advises crypto firms. and regulators on the risk of financial crime. The affiliate received around 7% of the JBS payout, which he sent to a privacy-focused wallet, while around $ 70,000 went to ChipMixer, a so-called mixing service that also makes it harder to traceability of parts, he added.

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“We can’t say if law enforcement seized any part of it, but we wouldn’t expect law enforcement to use confidential mixers / wallets,” Robinson said in an email. .

The May 30 cyberattack forced the Sao Paulo-based meat giant to shut down all of its beef factories in the United States, accounting for nearly a quarter of U.S. supplies. It also halted slaughter operations across Australia and idled one of Canada’s largest beef factories. The FBI attributed the incident to REvil, a hacking group that researchers say has ties to Russia.

Global shutdowns have alarmed the agriculture industry and raised concerns about food security as hackers increasingly target critical infrastructure. Operations have returned to normal levels and the company expects lost production to be fully recovered by the end of this week.

Dow Jones previously reported the ransom payment to JBS. JBS’s U.S. certificates of deposit fell 0.5% to $ 11.65 as of 2:57 p.m. in New York City and rose 27% this year.

JBS is the latest company to reimburse hackers. Colonial Pipeline Co. paid $ 4.4 million, or 75 Bitcoins, in ransom after a hack that forced it to shut down the largest oil pipeline in the United States five weeks ago, pushing up prices for it. gasoline and causing shortages at gas stations.

The United States later recovered 63.7 Bitcoin, a sign that law enforcement is able to pursue criminals online even when operating outside the country’s borders. Due to the decline in the value of Bitcoin since the Colonial ransom was paid, the US foreclosure at the end of May amounted to $ 2.3 million, just over half of the ransom originally paid by Colonial.

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More transparency

The recent wave of cyber attacks has prompted lawmakers to push for greater transparency on ransom payments. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it “was worth having” a debate on whether to make ransom payments illegal for US companies as it exacerbates and accelerates the problem.

JBS, in its latest statement, said the vast majority of the company’s facilities were up and running at the time of payment. He made the decision to “mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure that no data has been exfiltrated” in consultation with internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts.

The company added that it had maintained constant communications with government officials throughout the incident and that third-party forensic investigations were still ongoing.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP

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