Cyberattack Takes Down Systems at Molson Coors

Molson Coors Beverage Co. said Thursday that it is experiencing disruption across its business following a cyberattack.

The Milwaukee, Wis.-based brewer of Coors Light and Miller Lite said in a regulatory filing that the attack caused a system outage affecting its brewery, production and shipment operations.

“We have engaged a leading forensic IT firm to assist our investigation into the incident and are working around the clock to get our systems back up as quickly as possible,” said Adam Collins, Molson’s chief communications and corporate affairs officer.

Another company spokesman declined to provide further details on the type of attack or its timing. The manufacturing sector is a prime target for hackers launching ransomware and exploiting flaws in software.

Australian brewer Lion Pty. Ltd. suffered a ransomware attack in June 2020 that disrupted production, packaging, distribution, ordering and invoicing. In November 2019, Ontario-based drinks maker Waterloo Brewing Ltd. disclosed that it lost 2.1 million Canadian dollars, equivalent to $1.58 million at the time, in a social-engineering attack where swindlers posed as creditors.

A spokeswoman for Lion pointed to the company’s previous public guidance on its cyberattack, in which it detailed its response and recovery over 17 days.

Waterloo declined to comment.

After financial services, the manufacturing industry was the second-most attacked in 2020, up from eighth-most in 2019, according to International Business Machines Corp.

Flaws in specialized software used by manufacturers, known as industrial control systems, make the sector a target, IBM said. Its X-Force cybersecurity business said it tracked a 49% growth in detected vulnerabilities within ICS platforms during 2020 compared with 2019.

Employees work in the malt milling room of the Malt Shovel Brewery, operated by Australia’s Lion.

Photo: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg News

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency published 21 advisories Tuesday alone detailing flaws in different ICS platforms and has warned of over 50 vulnerabilities in these technologies so far this year.

Cyberattacks that trigger system outages can upend production as well as other business processes, said Grant Geyer, chief product officer at New York-based Claroty Ltd., which specializes in cybersecurity for industrial companies. These include business areas such as finance and human resources departments.

“What heightens the challenge here is the pandemic, in that remote users need access to the environment,” he said.

Molson last month had warned of the risks arising from cyberattacks in its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying it had observed more attempts than usual to breach its systems.

“We have seen an increase in the number of such attacks recently as a large number of our employees are working remotely and accessing our technology infrastructure remotely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” the company said.

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