Washington (AFP)

Global meat giant JBS, the victim of a cyberattack in late May, said Wednesday it had paid hackers $ 11 million in ransom.

"It was a very difficult decision for our company and for me personally," said Andre Nogueira, boss of the American subsidiary of the Brazilian group, in a statement.

"However, we felt that this decision should be taken to prevent any potential risk to our customers," he continued.

So the group paid "the equivalent of $ 11 million in ransom in response to criminal hacking of its operations," according to JBS.

Mr. Nogueira told the Wall Street Journal that the payment was made in bitcoins.

"At the time of payment, the vast majority of the company's facilities were operational," said JBS, which is one of the largest food companies in the world, in its statement.

It was to "ensure that no data is exfiltrated" and "to avoid any unforeseen problems related to the attack", according to the group.

JBS, which specializes in beef, chicken and pork products, had indicated to US authorities that it was the target of a ransomware cyber attack from a "criminal organization probably based in Russia", according to the White House.

US President Joe Biden has said he is not ruling out possible retaliation against Russia after the cyberattack.

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The servers on which JBS's computer systems are based in North America and Australia had been targeted, notably paralyzing the group's activities in Australia and suspending certain production lines in the United States.

In addition to Brazil and other Latin American countries, JBS is present in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Several companies have recently been victims of large-scale hacks.

The Colonial Pipeline group, also the target of an attack of this type in early May, admitted to having paid $ 4.4 million to hackers.

On Monday, the American authorities announced that they had recovered part of the sum.

The attack on Colonial Pipeline had caused major gasoline supply problems in the southeastern United States for several days.

Ransomware or "ransomware" exploits security holes to block computer systems.

Its authors then demand a ransom to unlock them.

At least $ 18 billion was paid to ransomware hackers last year, according to security firm Emsisoft.

© 2021 AFP