Production At Honda Grinds To Halt After Second Cyber Attack

Honda factories in around the world have suspended production work after a ransomware attack crippled its computer networks.

The car maker confirmed it had suffered a cyber attack but not that it was a ransomware attack, although it bears all the hallmarks of a ransomware attack.

This is bad news for Honda, considering that in June 2017 the Japanese car manufacturer had to temporarily halt operations for around 48 hours at its manufacturing plant in Sayama near Tokyo after a WannaCry attack hit its computer network, disrupting the production of around 1,000 vehicles.

Second attack

According to media reports, Honda’s IT systems have now been breached with the ‘Ekans’ malware.

It seems that internal servers at the Honda’s Tokyo headquarters were infected, and the company reportedly said it found further evidence the virus had spread through its network.

This Ekans malware, when it has previously infected other companies, informs users that it has penetrated their system and demands payment to decrypt its data.

Staff at Honda around the world were reportedly sent home from offices and factories, after phone systems stopped working and computers could not be accessed.

And the company has confirmed that its factory production has been affected, with a spokesperson saying that there had been ‘an impact on production systems outside of Japan’.

“Honda can confirm that a cyber-attack has taken place on the Honda network,” the Japanese car-maker said in a statement to the BBC.

The car maker added that the problem was affecting its ability to access its computer servers, use email and otherwise make use of its internal systems.

“There is also an impact on production systems outside of Japan,” Honda reportedly said.

“Work is being undertaken to minimise the impact and to restore full functionality of production, sales and development activities.”

Data compromise?

The fact that Honda has been attacked for the second time in the space of three years was noted by security experts.

“Honda is no stranger to ransomware attacks, having had to stop production at one of its plants in 2017 in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack, potentially showing the cyber threat faced by the automotive industry,” said Cath Goulding, CISO at Nominet.

“It’s also important that we understand the significance of this type of attack on a wider ecosystem,” said Goulding. “As a manufacturer and with reports that production in Europe has been ground to a halt, Honda’s suppliers, partners and customers may well be impacted by the security incident.”

“It also begs the question what data has been compromised and who it belongs to?,” Goulding said. “This domino effect of a cyber breach is a growing concern for organisations. When your output and operation relies on your IT infrastructure, compromise has more than financial implications, it also impacts relationships with suppliers, reputation, and customer loyalty among other factors.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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