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JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier, announced on Wednesday that after consulting with its tech team and outside cybersecurity experts, it paid an $11 million ransom to hackers to ensure that none of the company’s data was stolen.
“It was very painful to pay the criminals, but we did the right thing for our customers,” JBS USA CEO Andre Nogueira told The Wall Street Journal. Nogueira learned that JBS was the target of a cyberattack on May 30, when hackers demanded the company pay a ransom in order to reclaim access to its computer system. JBS temporarily suspended operations at nine of its beef processing plants in the United States, in order to slow down the attack.
By the time JBS paid the ransom late last week, most of the plants were back up and running. The payment — made in bitcoin — was meant to “prevent any potential risk” to customers, Nogueira said. The FBI has said the attack was carried out by a group known as REvil, which has links to Russia. Ransomware attacks are on the rise, with victims reporting paying at least $412 million in ransom over the last year.