JBS USA Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ shares: JBSAY) recently shelled out over $ 11 million in bitcoin to pay for cybercriminals who attacked the company's operating systems. The payment is part of a larger effort to avoid further business disruption, the American meat supplier revealed.
Payment made to protect JBS's clients
Andre Nogueira, the chief executive officer of the company's US division, revealed Wednesday to the Wall Street Journal that the hefty bitcoin payment was made after most of JBS's facilities resumed operations.
“It was very painful to pay these cybercriminals, but we did the right thing for our customers,” said the head of the company. He then added that the company's tech experts warned that hackers could attack again, despite their efforts to mitigate the effects of the cyber attack.
“We didn't think we could take this kind of risk, that something could go wrong in our recovery process,” continued Nogueira.
“It was insurance to protect our customers,” Nogueira said, referring to the decision to pay the ransom.
Although officials immediately notified U.S. federal authorities of the ransomware incident, Nogueira revealed that they also had cybersecurity experts and other consultants who began negotiating with the attackers, who were later identified as the REvil group.
They are not the only ones to have been attacked lately
At the moment, the company is still unsure how the cybercriminals managed to gain access to JBS's systems. The CEO explained that the company was able to quickly resume operations as it maintains an encrypted secondary backup system.
Nogueira declined to specify when the payment was issued, as well as naming the cybersecurity experts she worked with during the hacking event. The official said the company is confident that information relating to its customers, suppliers and employees has not been compromised.
JBS first announced that it was the victim of a cyber attack on May 31, a day after the incident actually occurred. Only on June 3, the company said it had restored its systems and was "fully operational".
Incidentally, the cyberattack came just weeks after hackers targeted the Colonial Pipeline and forced one of the largest US fuel suppliers to shut down for six days.
At the time, it was revealed that pipeline officials paid hackers $ 4,4 million to the cybercriminal group DarkSide. However, the US Department of Justice announced earlier this week that it had managed to recover "most" of the funds.
In short, cyber attacks on large companies are increasingly effective. It is hoped that, as with Colonial Pipeline, also for JBS we will be able to recover a good part of the ransom paid.