Politics Oversight chair presses JBS on why it paid ransom over cyberattack
JBS cyberattack: Meat producer will be back up and running Wednesday after its hack. But for some employees, that's too late
Even as meat producer JBS resumed operations at many of its US beef plants nationwide Wednesday after a cyberattack shut down all beef production at facilities around the nation this week, workers like Erika Gutierres remain worried what the disruption might mean for their paychecks. © Michael Ciaglo/Bloomberg/Getty Images The JBS Beef Production Facility in Greeley, Colorado, U.S., on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. A cyberattack on JBS SA, the world's largest meat producer, has forced the shutdown of some of the largest slaughterhouses globally, and there are signs that the closures are spreading.
The chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee is pressing JBS USA to explain why it paid $11 million in ransom to a criminal group earlier this year.
In released Friday, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) asked JBS chief executive Andre Nogueira to turn over all documents related to the ransomware attack and records of its communications with REvil, the group the FBI believes to be responsible, by June 24.
"I am deeply troubled by this and similar ransomware attacks," Maloney wrote in the letter.
"Any ransom payment to cybercriminal actors like REvil sets a dangerous precedent that increases the risk of future ransomware attacks. Congress needs detailed information about the attack to legislate effectively on ransomware and cybersecurity in the United States."
Meat producer JBS hit by ransomware attack from group 'likely based in Russia'
The Biden administration said Tuesday that it had been notified of a ransomware attack targeting the meat processing company JBS. "Meat producer JBS notified us on Sunday that they are the victims of a ransomware attack," White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, adding that the firm "notified the administration that the ransom demand came from a criminal organization likely based in Russia.
JBS admitted Wednesday that it paid $11 million in ransom to a Russian criminal group to prevent critical data from being destroyed. The ransomware attack temporarily disabled all of JBS's meat processing plants, shutting down the country's second-largest producer of beef, poultry and fish.
"This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally," Nogueira said in a Wednesday statement. "However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers."
Even so, Biden administration officials and the FBI have urged companies not to pay ransom if they've been hit with similar attacks, arguing that it will only encourage more cybercriminals to follow suit.
The payment came a week after Colonial Pipeline also paid millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency to end a similar attack. The Justice Department was later able to recover much of the ransom.
Why ransomware cyberattacks are on the rise
A recent spate of ransomware attacks has left the nation reeling. A recent spate of ransomware attacks has crippled critical American infrastructure, disrupted major food supply chains and revealed that no firm -- big or small -- is safe from these insidious cyberattacks.
The ransomware attack on JBS additionally reignited scrutiny of the company following a series of scandals related to its expansion within the U.S.
Lawmakers who've long been concerned about the dangerous consolidation within the agriculture sector cited the attack on JBS as a prime example. As the supplier of 25 percent of U.S. beef and 20 percent of pork and poultry, a prolonged disruption at JBS could trigger meat shortages and soaring prices across the country.
There has also been intense bipartisan concern about the means through which JBS USA became one of the largest suppliers of meat.
Federal prosecutors alleged that JBS SA, the U.S. company's parent firm, used U.S. banks, shell companies and an apartment in a bribery scheme that helped finance acquisitions of Pilgrim's Pride and Swift & Co. The owners of JBS SA's parent company to resolve foreign bribery charges.
White House says cyberattack on meat producer JBS likely from Russia .
The White House said Tuesday that a cyberattack on major meat producer JBS USA this week likely originated from Russia, saying it is engaging with Moscow to hold hackers believed to be responsible for the attack accountable."JBS notified the administration that the ransom demand came from a criminal organization, likely based in Russia," White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday aboard Air Force One. "The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter, and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals," she added.