Toshiba allegedly struck by ransomware attackers DarkSide

14 May 2021

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The French division of the Japanese conglomerate is investigating a cyberattack that it believes is linked to the Colonial pipeline attackers.

According to a report from Reuters, Toshiba Tec France, a business unit of Toshiba, has been hit with a ransomware attack.

The French Toshiba division, which makes barcode printers for retailers, is investigating an attack that took place on 4 May. The company has not commented on what data was affected. However, DarkSide, the hacker group that claimed responsibility for the crippling ransomware attack on the Colonial gas pipeline in the US, is suspected of being behind the attack.

Ransomware infects a target’s computers and IT infrastructure and encrypts all of its files. It then demanding a ransom, usually paid in bitcoin, to unlock the files.

Such attacks have become more prevalent as hackers target employees accessing company info remotely, seeking to make hefty gains from their exploits.

Colonial allegedly paid $5m to decrypt its network but it still took days to get the system – and its fuel pipes – running as normal. There were brief fuel shortages and price spikes in the northeast of the US in the days after the attack.

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Today (14 May), Ireland’s health service was struck by a severe ransomware attack that has forced much of its IT systems offline. It is not known who is responsible for this attack.

In the US, the Colonial attack forced president Joe Biden to sign an executive order that will attempt to bolster cybersecurity protocols at the country’s federal agencies.

The order requires that multi-factor authentication be implemented and that all data be encrypted in the next six months. It also imposes stricter reporting obligations when there is a breach.

This move comes as US officials still feel the sting from the SolarWinds attack that targeted several government bodies.

For Toshiba, its ransomware attack comes at an already fraught time for the Japanese conglomerate. While it reported a return to profitability this week, it is undergoing a strategic review that could see the firm sold.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

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