Honda suffers suspected ransomware attack

So-called "Ekans" ransomware is said to be behind office closures and a halt in manufacturing at some factories

Code on screen with ransomware in red

Japanese car giant Honda has been hit by a ransomware attack that has forced it to put manufacturing on hold at some locations. 

The ransomware attack was first discovered on Sunday, with Honda putting production on hold in certain locations the following day to deal with a "disruption" in its computer network, according to NBC News.

Reports claim Honda employees in the US were also turned away from their offices on Monday morning as IT equipment and phones were still offline.

Cyber security researchers claim to have found evidence that hackers have created a custom variant of the "Ekans", or "Snake", ransomware to encrypt an internal Honda network and demand ransom in exchange for a decryption key.

The so-called "Ekans" ransomware is a type of malware that has been designed to target industrial control systems and to evade anti-malware tools. It was recently used to target Germany-based Fresenius Group, Europe's largest private hospital operator, forcing it to postpone surgical procedures.

Honda has yet to confirm the ransomware attack but did state that it has suffered a security incident that has impacted its operations in Europe.

"This is currently under investigation, to understand the cause," a Honda spokesperson said.

"At this point, there is no effect on either Japanese production or dealer activities, and no customer impact. In Europe, we are investigating to understand the nature of any impact. We can confirm some impact in Europe and are currently investigating the exact nature.

This is not the first time Honda has been targeted by cyber criminals. One of the company's plants at Sayama, Japan, had to temporarily stop production in 2017 after its network was hit by WannaCry ransomware.

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In 2019, the carmaker had to deal with another cyber security incident after a researcher discovered a misconfigured ElasticSearch database leaking 134 million corporate documents that exposed sensitive information about the Honda's internal systems and device data.

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