Lion warns of beer shortages following ransomware attack

It said it survived COVID-19, but ransomware had other plans for the Australian beverage giant's supply operations.

Australian beverage giant Lion on Friday added further detail to the cyber incident it disclosed earlier this week, confirming it fell victim to a ransomware attack.

"Our investigations to date have shown that a system outage has been caused by ransomware. The ransomware targeted our computer systems. In response, we immediately shut down key systems as a precaution," it wrote.

Lion said its IT teams and cyber advisors are working around the clock to investigate the issue and are currently assessing how long the impacts would continue. 

"Our focus is on bringing systems back online safely so we can resume our business as usual manufacturing, and customer services," Lion said. "This is taking some time, but it is necessary that we work through this properly."

Lion, formerly Lion Nathan, said it was hoping to have full access restored by now, but the process was taking longer than it hoped.  

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It also said there is no evidence that any of the information contained in its system, including financial or personal information, has been affected, but said it would review closely as investigations continue.

On June 9, Lion said as a precaution it had shut down its IT systems in response to a "cyber incident".

On Friday, Lion said that throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, it was able to continue to brew beer safely, that it had stock at hand, and it was gearing up to increase brewing.

"This attack has delayed those plans, and because of the situation we have limited visibility of our products," the company wrote. "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."

With the company also producing and distributing milk and other dairy items such as yoghurt, as well as juice and soy, Lion said some parts of its Dairy & Drinks business customer service continue to be impacted, with some of its manufacturing sites currently offline. 

"Unfortunately, due to the nature of fresh dairy and juice products we are experiencing some service misses across our customer channels," Lion said.

"We are continuing to do all we can to ensure we can service the demand of our customers and have a team of people working with customers to assist with manual ordering and delivery."

Lion said it generates a total economic contribution to the Australian and New Zealand economies of around AU$5.3 billion, employing approximately 6,700 people.

Lion boasts 45 sites across the region.

The shortage warning comes as Australians slowly return to pubs, restaurants, and clubs with the loosening of coronavirus and the country seeing low levels of community transmission.

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