In a press release on June 9, JBS USA confirmed it paid the equivalent of $11 million in bitcoin ransom in response to the cyberattack against its operations in North America and Australia.
“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”
JBS stated that most of its facilities were operational at the time of the payment and the company consulted with internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts. According to the statement, JBS’s ability to quickly resolve the issues resulting from the attack “was due to its cybersecurity protocols, redundant systems and encrypted backup servers.” The company says it spends more than $200 million annually on IT and employs more than 850 IT professionals globally.
The FBI attributed the cyberattack to Russia-linked hacker group REvil (also known as Sodinokibi), a specialized cybercriminal group that has hacked several companies. JBS said “third-party forensic investigations are still ongoing, and no final determinations have been made.” JBS also said no customer or employee information was compromised.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12) has sent a letter to Nogueira requesting documents and communications related to JBS’ $11 million ransom payment.
“I am deeply troubled by this and similar ransomware attacks. Any ransom payment to cybercriminal actors like REvil sets a dangerous precedent that increases the future risk of ransomware attacks. Congress needs detailed information about the attack to legislate effectively on ransomware and cybersecurity in the United States,” the letter read.
The letter is also requesting any communication of JBS employees with outside agents or consultants and information regarding the purchase of bitcoin and any intermediaries in the transaction.
Maloney is requesting the documents be submitted to the committee by June 24. — Charles Wallace, WLJ editor