A Toshiba-run unit has revealed that it was hacked by the DarkSide ransomware group.
Toshiba Tec Corp, which makes bar code printers and electronic office equipment, was hacked as its parent was announcing a strategic review – responding to pressure from activist shareholders to seek out suitors after dismissing a $20 billion take-private bid from CVC Capital this year.
“There are around 30 groups within DarkSide that are attempting to hack companies all the time, and they succeeded this time with Toshiba,” said Takashi Yoshikawa, a senior malware analyst at Mitsui Bussan Secure Directions.
He added, however, that only a small amount of work data had been lost at the $2.3 billion unit but pointed out that employees accessing company computer systems from home during pandemic lockdowns have made firms more vulnerable to cyber attacks.
The same group is widely believed to be behind the recent Colonial Pipeline attack.
Screenshots of DarkSide’s post provided by the cybersecurity firm said more than 740 gigabytes of information was compromised and included passports and other personal information.
Ransomware attacks have increased in number and amount of demands, with hackers encrypting data and seeking payment in cryptocurrency to unlock it. They increasingly release stolen data as well, or threaten to unless they are paid more.
Ireland’s health service said on Friday it had shut down its IT systems after what it described as a “significant” ransomware attack.
Investigators in the US’s Colonial case say the attack software was distributed by DarkSide, which includes Russian speakers and avoids hacking targets in the former Soviet Union. DarkSide lets “affiliates” hack into targets elsewhere, then handles the ransom negotiation and data release.
Amid calls from shareholders to explicitly seek offers from potential suitors after dismissing a $20 billion take-private bid from CVC Capital this year, Toshiba said it was setting up a strategic review committee and had appointed UBS as financial adviser.
The review will be conducted by independent directors and is designed to help the board consider a new business plan to be put forward by management by October.
The CVC offer faced strong opposition within the company. Its plan to retain management was perceived by some as aimed at shielding former CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani from activist shareholders.
Battered by accounting scandals, massive writedowns for its US nuclear business as well as the sale of its chip unit, Toshiba is a shadow of its former self.
But it remains one of Japan’s few manufacturers of nuclear power reactors and makes defence equipment, meaning any sale of would require government approval.
Toshiba on Friday forecast a 63% rise in annual operating profit to 170 billion yen ($1.6 billion), rebounding from pandemic-induced pain in the last year and as restructuring measures bear fruit. That follows a 20% slide in profit last year.
- Reporting by Reuters