The newest fad among the digital criminal cartels is ransomware: Computer viruses that lock a system down until such a time as a special encryption key is provided. That key, however, comes at a cost. The bigger the target, (or more important the computer system is), the higher the cost.
And so ransomware hackers often target delicate or wealthy institutions who pay either because it doesn’t hurt them too badly, or because lives depend on it.
The worst thing about ransomware, in all reality, is the fact that every successful attack breeds an army of hopeful ne’er-do-wells, making it imperative that we avoid paying these ransoms as often as possible.
Apparently, JBS doesn’t agree.
The world’s largest meat processing company said Wednesday that it paid an $11 million ransom to cybercriminals after it was forced to halt cattle-slaughtering operations at 13 of its meat processing plants. JBS confirmed the payment in a statement following a cyberattack attributed to the Russian-speaking ransomware gang “REvil.”
The company ultimately paid the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency to prevent further disruptions of the meat plants, mitigating potential damage to the food supply — including restaurants, grocery stores and farmers that rely on JBS production.
“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA, in a statement. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”
The news comes just weeks after it was discovered that the Colonial pipeline also paid a ransom of approximately $4.4 million to ransomware hackers. Ultimately, a majority of that ransom was recovered.