Freeport hit with cyberattack: Ransom demanded

Freeport McMoRan Inc. operates the Morenci Operations in Greenlee County and the Safford Operations north of Safford. On Friday, the company reported being the victim of a cyberattack that was still ongoing.

By Jon Johnson

PHOENIX – Freeport McMoRan Inc. is the largest copper producer in North America, and now someone has come to steal some of their cheddar. 

On Friday, Freeport released a statement that reported it was the victim of a cyberattack that had affected its informational systems but so far has had a limited impact on copper production. However, the company said a prolonged disruption could impact future operations. 

Freeport owns most of the Morenci Operations and all of Safford Operations. The two sites are some of the biggest copper producers for the company. While headquartered in Phoenix, the international company is the world’s largest producer of molybdenum and operates the world’s largest gold mine in Papua, Indonesia.  

According to a Freeport employee who spoke on a condition of anonymity, the attack happened Thursday night and caused the company’s computer systems to shut down. Ironically, the worker said the network’s unreliability may help them deal with the problem. The worker said the company teamed up with Microsoft a few years ago and then had workers use an app to verify themselves. But the app doesn’t seem to work that well, according to the worker. 

Freeport issued an official statement on Friday saying it was working with law enforcement and others to solve the situation. 

“Traditional solutions are being planned and implemented to secure informational systems as quickly as possible,” the company stated. “FCX continues to prioritize safety and responsible production practices.” 

Cyberattacks have targeted hospitals, government agencies, and other businesses by taking over their computer systems and demanding a ransom to relinquish control.

The company advised it would provide future updates when possible.