A well-known egg distributor is the new victim of ransomware. Will the chickens lay Bitcoin?


The ransomware Maze group claims to have hacked into the Sparboe egg farm in a publication on their website.

Maze, a well-known group of cybercriminals, recently reported on their website that they attacked Sparboe. The posting includes evidence that they stole data from the company.

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Maze: a major computer crime organization
Emsisoft cyber security company threat analyst Brett Callow told

that so far in every Maze attack, the group has called for a ransom at Bitcoin (BTC). There also seems to be no particularly easy and focused way to protect companies from such attacks, as the group uses multiple forms of attack:

„Like other ransomware groups, Maze has been observed using multiple methods to penetrate corporate networks, including malspam, the use of stolen credentials and attacks on misconfigured or unprotected Internet systems.

Maze is known for attacking high profile companies and demanding particularly high ransoms. Previously, the group threatened to leak millions of credit card numbers after allegedly hacking into Banco BCR, a Costa Rican state bank.

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Maze appears to be following its usual strategy, which includes making the victim’s data inaccessible by encrypting it and stealing a copy. Later, the group requests two separate rescues to restore access to the victim’s data and another to promise that it will not be leaked.

As Cointelegraph reported in early May, Brett Callow told Cointelegraph about another Maze hack:

„In a previous case, Maze claimed that their claim was for $2 million: $1 million to decrypt the victim’s data and an additional $1 million to destroy the copy.

A controversial hack victim

According to the website of Sparboe, Minnesota’s chicken and egg distributor founded in 1954, it now has an estimated annual revenue of $30 million according to the Owler company data website. The farm is a large producer, but in 2011 it was abandoned by McDonald’s and Target, one of its biggest customers, after Sparboe found itself in the middle of an animal abuse scandal.

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As reported by CNN at the time, the animal rights group Mercy for Animals recorded an alleged undercover video at three of Sparboe’s farms in Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota. The footage showed workers mistreating animals for fun, burning beaks and piling up birds in crowded cages. McDonald’s said in a statement:

„Regarding the videos, the actions are disturbing and completely unacceptable. McDonald’s wants to assure our customers that we have a humane treatment of animals by our suppliers. …] It is important to note that the most alarming actions on video did not occur at Sparboe’s facility in Vincent, Iowa, which supplies McDonald’s.