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Hacker (Photo: Nahel Abdul on Unsplash)
25 June 2020

Cyber-attack on Lion halts beer production

Australia | A sophisticated foreign state-based hacker is believed to be behind the current attacks on Australian governments and businesses. Among them was the country’s number two brewer Lion.

Lion said on 12 June 2020, that its investigations revealed that the system outage, first reported on 8 June, was caused by ransomware. Targeting its computer systems both in Australia and New Zealand, it had a knock-on effect on its beer production. Lion doesn’t have any evidence that any data were syphoned off. Also, Lion didn’t say if they had paid up.

Meanwhile, Lion has installed manual systems to deal with orders, but admitted that this was imperfect. The breweries were back on stream on 17 June.

Lion wasn’t the only one to see its operations messed up. Appliance manufacturer Fisher and Paykel and car maker Honda have since joined the list. As reports The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, the hackers behind the Fisher and Paykel attacks have subsequently published corporate files on the dark web, containing sensitive financial data dating back to 2013.

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to name which state is behind the malicious cyber-attacks, it is widely believed to be China.

A set-back for Lion

For Lion, the incident couldn’t have come at a worse time. Throughout the covid-19 shutdown, Lion’s breweries, juice and dairy operations were able to continue operating. Just when Lion was hiking up its beer production, the system outage brought it to a standstill.

Sadly, cyber-attacks are not uncommon in Australia. Already, in 2017-2018, a total of 18 percent of businesses (that is nearly one in five) reported cyber-attacks and data breaches, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Most of those belonged to the manufacturing, wholesale, and trade sectors.