Toyota shuts down production after potential cyberattack on a supplier
TOKYO – The world’s largest automaker Toyota said on Monday it has suspended all production in Japan following a possible cyberattack on a major supplier.
The stoppage followed a problem with the computer system at automotive components manufacturer Kojima Industries, which disrupted the company’s ordering system. A company spokesperson said the problem first surfaced on Saturday night and the company decided to shut down its computer network to prevent the issue from spreading to customers.
Kojima Industries is yet to ascertain the cause of the problem, but suspects a cyberattack or virus. The company’s website was down on Monday evening.
At a news conference on the situation in Ukraine, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government was aware of Toyota’s closure and was investigating the cause.
Cyber attacks have become increasingly common in Japan in recent years. Japanese companies have been slow to update their networks to account for the increased use of ransomware by criminals, as well as infiltration by state actors. Manufacturers have been the most common targets for attacks, which can essentially take computer systems and valuable data hostage.
Like many other automakers, Toyota had to cut production significantly after the pandemic wreaked havoc on global supply chains and led to shortages of semiconductors and other components.
Last year, after the initial waves of the virus passed and global demand for the automobile increased, Toyota announced optimistic plans to produce 9.3 million units worldwide by March 31, the end of its fiscal year.
But skyrocketing demand for semiconductors and recurring waves of infections forced the company to reduce those plans to first nine million, then in February, to eight and a half million.
Even before Kojima Industries’ problems, Toyota had planned a temporary halt in March at several factories in Japan due to parts shortages.
A Toyota spokesperson said the stoppages announced on Monday include 14 Toyota’s domestic factories and will affect production of 13,000 vehicles.
Despite setbacks, Toyota has managed to use lessons learned during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan to better adjust to the disruptions of the pandemic than its rivals, It has topped the global auto sales charts for two consecutive years.
Toyota’s subsidiary Hino, which manufactures heavy trucks and buses, said in a statement on Monday that it would also halt production at two factories due to problems with an unspecified supplier. Another subsidiary, Daihatsu, has also halted some production, according to local media reports.
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