UPDATE: JBS USA, major panhandle employer, gives statement on $11 million ransom payment

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The JBS meatpacking plant in Moore County, near Amarillo, recently saw a surge of COVID-19 cases. (KAMR/Nexstar)

CACTUS, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – After systems were knocked offline and production stalled for several days, JBS USA confirmed that it paid “the equivalent of $11 million” in ransom to a criminal organization responsible for the hack.

A major panhandle employer and the largest meat producer in the world, JBS USA issued a statement regarding the situation on June 9. The company said that when the ransom was paid, “the vast majority of the company’s facilities were operational.” Working with internal IT staff and third-party cybersecurity, JBS paid the ransom to “mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated.”

“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said Andre Nogueira, CEO, JBS USA. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”

According to the company, the FBI linked the Russian-based ransom group REvil to the attack and cited the group as among the most specialized and sophisticated cybercriminal groups in the world.

While third-party forensic investigations are still ongoing and the company said it is maintaining communication with government officials, JBS also insisted that no company, customer, or employee data was compromised.

After the May hack against the Colonial Pipeline in which $4.4 million was paid in ransom, this attack was the second in a month on critical U.S. infrastructure. 

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