World's largest meat processing company pays hackers £7.8m to end attack

The world's largest meat processing company is operating at full capacity again today after paying the equivalent of £7.8m in ransom to put an end to a major cyber attack.

Computer networks at JBS were hacked last week, temporarily shutting down some operations in Australia, Canada and the US. Analysts had warned that any further delay to operations could have led to higher meat prices.

The payment was reportedly made using Bitcoin after plants had come back online. JBS says it was necessary to pay to protect customers, with chief executive, Andre Nogueira adding that the decision was very difficult both for the company and for him personally.

Jake Moore, cyber security specialist at ESET commented: “Being hit with an attack like this is a very difficult predicament: organisations are having to make huge decisions, which should never even crop up in the first place, about whether or not to pay ransoms. This eye watering amount paid here would have been determined by the attackers – and is actually likely to have been negotiated down – but the scale of the ransom highlights the challenging and rather lonely position JBS were left in.

“We have recently seen companies like Fujifilm refuse to pay the ransoms and restore from backups, but unfortunately most companies are not so lucky and are left stuck between a rock and a hard place, all the while against the clock. Such huge sums of money can cripple some organisations, but cyber criminals often decide how much to request in order to make it a genuine possibility that they will be paid. Not a decision to be taken lightly, and it must be noted that more work is still needed in ensuring that there is adequate proactive protection in place to defend these increasing attacks.”

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