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Meat giant JBS pays almost £8m ransom to hackers after cyber attack

The world's largest meat processing company has paid a ransom worth $11m (£7.8m) to hackers behind a cyber attack on its computer systems.

JBS - which produces almost a quarter of America's beef - confirmed it handed over the funds on Wednesday.

It comes after the Brazil-based company revealed on 31 May how its network had been targeted.

The FBI has attributed the ransomware attack to a Russian-speaking gang, REvil, and has vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

JBS USA chief executive Andre Nogueira said agreeing to pay the ransom was "a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally".

"However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers," he added.

The vast majority of the meat giant's facilities were operational at the time the ransom was paid, JBS said.

But bosses decided to meet the demands to avoid any unforeseen issues and ensure no data was exfiltrated.

Hackers targeted servers supporting JBS operations in North America and Australia, disrupting production for a number of days.

The company halted cattle slaughtering at all of its US plants for a day last week.

The ransom was paid in Bitcoin, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

It follows the operator of the largest fuel pipeline in the US, Colonial Pipeline, paying a ransom of 75 bitcoin - then valued at $4.4m (£3.1m) - to Russian hackers in May.

This week, the US Justice Department announced it recovered most of the payment, in what has been described as a rare victory in the battle against ransomware.

JBS, which employs 850 IT staff worldwide, said forensic investigations are ongoing - however it does not believe any company, customer or employee data was compromised.

The FBI revealed earlier this month how it was investigating about 100 different types of ransomware.

Ransom software encrypts victims' data - with hackers typically offering a key in exchange for cryptocurrency payments often running up to millions of dollars.

Sky News

© Sky News 2021

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