Cyber attack forces Aussie beer giant Lion to shut operations

Australian brewery giant Lion announced Wednesday that it suffered a major cyber attack that forced it to shut down its IT systems, resulting in a disruption to the supplies of beer to suppliers and customers.

Lion is Australia's largest brewer, brewing popular beer brands such as Corona, Budweiser, Guinness, and Becks as well as local brands such as XXXX GOLD, Tooheys, Speights, Steinlager, Lion Red and Brown. Owned by Japanese brewery Kirin Holdings, Lion faces stiff competition from Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) which is owned by Belgian brewery company Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).

A statement issued by Lion on Wednesday suggested that its IT systems were still down even though the company was engaging cyber security specialists to diagnose the attack and work on a recovery plan. It said it had introduced a number of manual systems to continue to take orders and ship products to networks.

"We are working through the impacts. There is no evidence to date of any data breaches, but we are still investigating every aspect of this major incident. We recognise that this is not perfect and it is impacting our customers. We are doing everything possible under the circumstances.

"We have teams working around the clock to bring our systems back online safely. Again, we apologise for the inconvenience this has caused our suppliers, customers and our broader supply chain. We appreciate your patience and support during this challenging time. We are thankful to our team for responding so quickly, using the latest advanced tools to return systems safely as soon as possible," Lion said.

"This attack 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. They are in the early stages of rebuilding, restocking and reengaging their staff and in New Zealand are able to operate with no restrictions for the first time in months following the move to COVID-19 Alert Level 1 this week. This has been the most devastating time on record for the hospitality industry.

"Throughout the COVID shutdown, we were able to continue to brew beer safely, meaning we have a good supply of product for the time being. In saying that, this attack has impacted crucial aspects of the brewing process. We operate multiple large-scale breweries, which are heavily reliant on IT infrastructure," it added.

The cyber attack comes not long after Lion entered into an agreement with China Mengniu Dairy Company to sell its dairy and drinks business for $600 million to the Chinese dairy giant, 16% of whose shares are owned by COFCO, a Chinese government-owned food company.

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