Cyber attack shuts Australia’s biggest brewer just as pubs reopen

A ransomware has shut down the biggest brewer in Australia and New Zealand, cutting supplies to pubs and restaurants just as the countries emerge from coronavirus lockdown, the company said Friday.

Drinks manufacturer Lion which produces popular beer brands including XXXX Gold, Tooheys, Hahn, James Boag and Little Creatures said the hack “could not have come at a worse time.”

Investigators at the company said the outage was caused by ransomware, a cyberhack which freezes a target's computer systems until a payment is made.

“We immediately shut down all our systems as a precaution, and we have continued to work with experts to determine how much longer our systems will be impacted,” Lion said in a statement.

The company gave no details about any ransom demands and said it was taking longer than expected to bring its production systems back online.

The brewery shutdown came just as pubs and restaurants across New Zealand and Australia have been gradually reopening after being closed in March to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Sporting life is also returning to normal, with crowds of up 10,000 people to be allowed into Australian sports stadiums from next month, and New Zealand preparing to welcome back fans at its Super Rugby Aotearoa tournament, which kicks off on Saturday.

“This could not have come at a worse time for Lion, particularly for our valued pub and club customers who are in the very early stages of recovery following the COVID-19 closures,” it said.

“We're working to bring our breweries back online as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will be managing our stock levels very closely and may see some temporary shortages,” it said.

Milk production by Lion has also been halted by the attack, which occurred on Monday, it said.

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