Business / Corporate

Honda halts output at some plants after cyberattack

Bloomberg, Kyodo

Some factories of Honda Motor Co. around the world have been brought to a standstill after a cyberattack disrupted the carmaker’s internal network, company officials said.

Production has been halted at car factories in Ohio and Turkey, as well as at motorcycle plants in India and South America, and the company is working to fix systems, spokesman Hidenori Takeyasu said. Japanese operations weren’t affected and Honda’s other plants in the U.S. have resumed manufacturing.

The disruption comes as manufacturers have shut some offices and plants and let staff work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Carmakers have slowly started to ramp up production around the world after countries gradually began lifting lockdown measures put in place to halt the spread of the pandemic. Honda resumed operations in the U.S. on May 11 and had planned to reopen its U.K. plant this week.

Production at the factory in Swindon, England, was to restart later Wednesday, two days later than planned, a person familiar with the situation said.

Honda said there’s no indication of an information breach and the impact on business will be minimal. A spokesman for the company’s North American business said it isn’t aware of any loss of personal information and that output had resumed at most plants in the U.S. The automaker is “currently working toward the return to production of our auto and engine plants in Ohio,” spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said in an email.

Honda’s two car assembly plants in Ohio have a combined annual capacity of 680,000 vehicles, more than half of its total automotive production in the U.S. Those factories make models such as the Accord sedan and CR-V crossover.

Other industries have seen rising cyberattacks during the outbreak as well. On Sunday, Singapore Technologies Engineering said its unit, VT San Antonio Aerospace, recently discovered a cybersecurity incident where a group “gained unauthorized access to its IT network and deployed a ransomware attack.” Last week, ship builder Fincantieri SpA confirmed that servers at its Norwegian unit were infected.

The U.S. was hit by a record volume of ransomware attacks in 2019 and hackers have shown little sign of relenting in 2020, when users spent more time on less secure networks while working from home. In 2019, at least 966 government agencies, schools and health care providers were attacked at a cost of more than $7.5 billion, according to the cyber research firm Emsisoft. Among those were almost 90 universities and school districts.

Honda confirmed the network problem at around 9 a.m. on Monday and suspended delivery of vehicles as the problem impaired the inspection of cars prior to their shipment from factories, the officials said.

Honda recommended its employees at its Tokyo headquarters and some other offices take a paid holiday on Tuesday as the probe meant they were unable to communicate with their overseas colleagues as usual.

Later Tuesday, the inspection system recovered and Honda resumed shipments from its domestic factories, the officials said, adding that the carmaker was restricting the use of personal computers in the company.

In 2017, Honda Motor had to temporarily suspend production at a Japanese factory after it was hit by ransomware cyberattacks.

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