JBS SA and Colonial Pipeline, both critical units of the U.S. infrastructure, forked over multimillion-dollar ransom payments last month after cybercriminals threatened their computer systems.
The silver lining, if any? Those payments may in fact be tax-deductible.
The hit on JBS, the largest food manufacturer yet to be hit by ransomware, was the second attack in a month on a critical industry. After a gang of hackers targeted servers supporting JBS’ operations in North America and Australia, production was disrupted for several days.
Right before that, hackers believed to operate with impunity in Russia and allied states shut down operation of the Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. fuel pipeline, for nearly a week.
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In both cases, officials who feared larger consequences paid the ransom. JBS confirmed that it paid the equivalent of $11 million to hackers who broke into its computer system. Officials at Colonial paid a ransom of 75 bitcoin — roughly $4.4 million — to get back online after a separate gang of cybercriminals using the DarkSide ransomware variant broke into the company’s computer system.
Although paying these criminals goes against FBI guidance, the U.S. government offers a little-noticed incentive for those who do pay.