Honda only recently resumed operations in the U.S. and Europe due to the coronavirus. Now it is facing another viral threat – or more accurately – an apparent ransomware attack that may have impacted a number of global operations, including some production facilities, the automaker said.
The attack began Sunday, June 7, Honda confirmed in a statement, noting that it “experienced a disruption in its computer network that has caused a loss of connectivity, thus impacting our business operations. Our information technology team is working quickly to assess the situation.”
Honda officials declined to provide additional details about which of the company’s global operations were impacted by what is being referred to as the Ekans malware on a number of websites devoted to cybersecurity. One tech site, known as BleepingComputer, indicated that it is a version of the well-known Snake ransomware, itself named after a character in the Pokemon game.
“We’re not saying anything beyond (the original) statement right now,” the company said in a statement to TheDetroitBureau.com.
A separate report by auto site Jalopnik indicated that at least some of the production sites operated by Honda of America Manufacturing, such as its original plant in Marysville, Ohio, had production halted.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Sky News outlet indicated that the malware attack has impacted Honda IT networks in Japan and Europe, though it was not clear if that means production has been impacted in those regions, as well.
If the Ekans attack holds true to the typical ransomware model it would require the company to pay a substantial fee before the perpetrators would relinquish control. In some cases, ransomware will completely delete a victim’s data and can even be used to cause physical damage to computer systems under attack.
Viral attacks of all forms has escalated in recent years, both against individuals as well as corporate and other computer systems. Some of the biggest attacks have been state-sponsored, cybersecurity experts frequently pointing to players like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. Some reports indicate that the assault on the Honda IT network, however, is the result of private criminals simply looking for a big payout.
Honda IT employees are currently working to resolve the attack. It has not been revealed whether the company has paid or plans to pay the source of the ransomware to end the attack.
This isn’t the first time Honda faced a major attack on its IT system. In 2017 it was one of the many targets slammed by another ransomware program, that one known as WannaCry. Other automakers that were impacted included Renault and Nissan, according to the Reuters news service.
We will update this story as we learn more from Honda and other sources.