Cybersecurity official warns of ransomware attack after JBS hacking

Ajay Unni, Founder and CEO, StickmanCyber, was in conversation with Natalie Brown, after the recent cyberattack on JBS, outlining the possible causes and the need for enhanced focus on improving cybersecurity for Australian businesses.

The insights shared were covered by major media outlets like:

  • - The Cairn's Post
  • - The Advertiser
  • - Mercury
  • - NT News
  • - Gold Coast Bulletin
  • - Toowoomba Chronicle
  • - The Courier Mail

Read the full article below as featured in

A top US cybersecurity official has warned more ransomware attacks could be coming down the line, as the nation reels from a spate of recent hits on American interests, including meat supplies and fuel.

Head of Threat Hunting for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Chris Butera, said ransomware has “continued to increase, especially in our state, local governments, as well as our critical instructor space”.

“The ransomware actors have become more brazen. They’ve started to exfiltrate data and try to extort payments,” he said during a virtual summit today.

“I do think we will continue to see that happen.”

Mr Butera described cybersecurity as a “primary priority” for the Biden administration, who believe Russian hackers are responsible for a crippling ransomware attack on the world’s largest meat producer, causing the shutdown of facilities across the world.

JBS facilities around the globe were impacted by a ransomware attack, forcing many of their facilities to shut down. Picture: Chet Strange/Getty Images/AFP

Thousands of workers in Australia employed by corporate giant JBS have been stood down indefinitely as a result, plunging the local beef industry into chaos and sparking fears of a global meat shortage and significant price hikes if the shutdown drags on.

Member of the NSW Government’s 2020 Cyber Security Task Force and founder of Stickman Cyber, Ajay Unni, said in a statement that the incident “could have a long-lasting impact”, with 47 JBS-owned and operated facilities across Australia and some 11,000 employees.

“The attackers could have installed malicious software in different parts of the network, in what is called Advanced Persistent Threat and we will have to see what transpires,” he said.

“If JBS Food did not have good log management systems already in place that can help forensic investigations identify the breach, we may never discover the true cause and a lot of money will be spent cleaning up and restoring the systems to full integrity.

“Such attacks are akin to a denial-of-service attack where the victim is unable to provide its services or access its systems and networks.”

Mr Unni said that “our nation as a whole and businesses at large need to ensure they have basic defence mechanisms and abilities to spot, monitor, detect and respond to a cyber attack”.

“In the physical world, defence is the key to dissuading attackers from taking action. Cyber criminals want a return on their investment, not to prove a point, and our best form of protection is to invest in defence, continuous monitoring, detection and response and recovery capabilities,” he added.

He also warned that “if the global meat industry, the federal government and Australia’s largest media company have fallen prey to ransomware attacks”, smaller businesses could be next.

“Hackers are constantly honing their techniques and becoming more sophisticated in their approaches. Installing a firewall or antivirus software is no longer enough,” Mr Unni said.

“Weak spots need to be identified and eradicated before an attack occurs. Investing in continuous monitoring, detection and response with recovery capability is key, along with good governance, testing, training, policy and procedure and awareness all form part of a good cybersecurity practice.”

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