Hackers, those pilfering rogues, are now threatening something much more valuable than our money or our data: our goddamn alcohol.
A cyberattack has reportedly brought production at one of the nation’s largest breweries, Molson Coors, to a standstill. On Thursday, the beer giant revealed in a regulatory filing that an attack had “caused and may continue to cause a delay or disruption to parts of the Company’s business, including its brewery operations, production, and shipments.” Coors, which operates seven breweries and packaging plants in the U.S., 10 in Europe, and three in Canada, hasn’t said how many of its facilities have been impacted. A source reportedly told a local news outlet in Milwaukee, where one of its facilities is located, that the “hack is crippling – that the company can’t produce beer until it’s fixed.”
It isn’t totally clear when the attack took place or what kind it was, either. In an email to Gizmodo, a company representative only confirmed that “Molson Coors experienced a systems outage that was caused by a cybersecurity incident. 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.”
While there have been scant details provided about the nature of the attack, the most obvious explanation here would be ransomware: Coors is a high-value target with a lot riding on the effective functioning of its systems. That gives a lot of leverage to whoever is (hypothetically) trying to extort the company. Given the timing, there has also been some speculation as to whether this attack is in any way connected to the Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities that have seen such aggressive targeting. At this point, there is simply no way to know.
It seems clear the hack has the potential to disrupt beer-drinkers worldwide. If you’ve been in a bar at any point in your life, you’ve likely been exposed to Molson Coors products: The maker of Keystone, Coors Light, Blue Moon, and other college party classics, it has also diversified lately, churning out a lot of hard seltzers, ciders, and kombucha. Between SolarWinds and Microsoft, hackers have already messed up enough stuff this year. Let’s not let them screw up Friday nights, too.