FOOD giant KP Snacks last night was ransomed by Russian cyber gangsters.
The brand – which makes Hula Hoops, Skips and KP Nuts – was hacked last weekend.
They now have 5 days to pay before the top secret data is leaked online.
Retailers, supermarkets and pubs have been warned of possible severe delays and cancellations for deliveries.
The frantic bosses said they were unable to “securely process orders or ship” after the attack.
It is feared that the severe impact on supplies could last “as early as the end of March”.
The company has put a cap on orders to protect its current reserves amid fears of a major shortage.
In a letter to retailers yesterday, the company said: “Unfortunately, we can now confirm that we were the victim of a cyber attack.
“Our system has been compromised by ransomware.
“Over the weekend, our IT team and third-party experts assessed the scale of the breach and continue to do so.
“As a result, at this stage, we are unable to process the order, ship it safely.
“We have teams working through the settlement, but don’t know when it will be resolved.”
Nisa, owned by Co-Op Group, said: “Initial discussions have emphasized that no orders will be placed or delivered for at least several weeks.
“Services may be affected until the end of March at the earliest.
“Please expect supply issues with base stock and promotions until further notice.
“In the meantime, we’ll be maxing out the stock limit to make sure we manage the amount of stock we have.”
THIS IS BENEFITS
The attack was carried out using sophisticated Russian Conti
Ransomware Group “wiped” the company’s IT and communications systems last Friday.
This software was first identified in Saint Petersburg in 2020 and is likely to affect all versions of Microsoft Windows.
It encrypts files and uninstalls Windows Defender apps. It can also target specific drives as well as individual IP addresses.
The sources said that KP’s sensitive records, including employee records and financial documents, were hacked.
Last night, the Conti team claimed responsibility for the attack and shared forms of credit card statements, birth certificates, spreadsheets with employees’ addresses and phone numbers, confidentiality agreements and other documents. other sensitive documents.
It said KP had five days to pay or would release more proprietary data on its public blog.
It is unclear whether KP is currently negotiating with Conti or will pay the ransom.
Conti is a Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) operation linked to the Russian cybercriminal group Wizard Spider, also known for other notorious malware, including Ryuk, TrickBot, and BazarLoader.
Affiliates of the ransomware group breach the target’s network after the company’s devices are infected with the BazarLoader or TrickBot malware, providing them with remote access to the compromised system.
In recent weeks, Conti has quickly climbed the ranks among ransomware groups after repeatedly targeting well-known organizations.
Last month, Conti claimed responsibility for hacking Bank Indonesia, the country’s central bank, and began leaking its data.
In December 2021, Conti compromised the systems of hotel group Nordic Choice, freezing the hotel’s key cards.
Past targets of the ransomware gang include the Irish Department of Health (DoH) and Health Services Executive (HSE), and marketing giant RR Donnelly (RRD).
The FBI also recently issued an advisory warning about the increasing number of Conti ransomware attacks.
In a statement, KP Snacks said: “On Friday, January 28, we learned that we were unfortunately the victim of a ransomware incident.
“As soon as we became aware of the incident, we issued a cybersecurity response plan and enlisted a leading forensic information technology company and legal counsel to assist us with our investigation.
“Our internal IT teams continue to work with third-party experts to assess the situation.
“We have and continue to keep our colleagues, customers and suppliers informed of any developments and apologize for any disruption this may have caused.”
The latest disruption to the chips and snack category follows IT issues at rival Walkers in October, leading to empty store shelves extending through the end of December.
And in December, Spar wholesaler and store operator James Hall also faced severe IT issues after a cyberattack affected more than 600 independent and owned Spar stores. centrally owned across northern England, forcing many shops to close.
KP Snacks, which also makes PopChips, Wheat Crunchies, Tyrrells, Pom Bear and Nik Naks, employs more than 2,000 people.
Its annual turnover is estimated at £450 million.
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