The world’s largest meat processor said on Wednesday that it paid an $11 million ransom to the hackers behind a cyberattack that forced the shutdown last week of all of the company’s U.S. beef plants and disrupted operations at poultry and pork plants.
The company, JBS, said in a statement that the decision to pay the ransom was made to protect its data and hedge against risk for its customers. The company said most of its facilities were back up and running when the payment was made.
The F.B.I. said last week that it believed REvil, a Russian-based group that is one of the most prolific ransomware organizations, was responsible for the attack.
JBS, which is based in Brazil, processes roughly a fifth of the United States’ beef and pork. News last week of the cyberattack on a producer so central to the U.S. meat supply spurred worries that the shutdown could shock the market, creating shortages and accelerating the rise of already-high meat prices. But those fears largely have not been realized, in large part because JBS was able to resume its operations quickly.
The breach was the latest in a string of attacks targeting critical infrastructure that have raised concerns about vulnerabilities of American businesses. Last month, a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, a vital artery that transports gasoline to nearly half the East Coast, caused gas and jet-fuel shortages and set off panic buying of fuel in several states.
The Wall Street Journal was first to report news of JBS’s ransom payment.