Tokyo/Paris – A unit of Toshiba Corp. has been hit by a ransomware attack, overshadowing an announcement of a strategic review for the conglomerate and an upbeat profit forecast.
Toshiba Tec Corp., which makes point-of-sale systems and copiers, said it had been hacked by DarkSide, the group the United States FBI has blamed for the Colonial Pipeline attack, according to the firm’s French subsidiary. It said only a minimal amount of work data had been lost.
Reuters could not access DarkSide’s public-facing website on Friday. Security researchers said DarkSide’s multiple websites had stopped being accessible.
Ransomware attacks have increased in number and the in the value of their demands, with hackers encrypting data and seeking payment in cryptocurrencies to unlock it. They increasingly release stolen data as well, or threaten to unless they are paid more.
Investigators in the U.S’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.
Separately, Toshiba Corp. — which has had to grapple with a series of scandals over the past several years — said it was setting up a strategic review committee to consider ways to increase corporate value, and had appointed UBS as financial adviser.
The move follows a $20 billion offer from CVC Capital to take the conglomerate private, which Toshiba has said lacked substance.
CVC had said it would retain management, and the offer was perceived by some in the company as designed to shield former CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani from activist shareholders.
Toshiba has since faced calls from leading shareholders to explicitly seek offers from potential suitors and to conduct a strategic review.
Sources have said some other private equity investors, such as KKR & Co. Inc and Bain Capital, are also interested in Toshiba.
The Asahi newspaper reported Friday that Bain Capital was not considering buying Toshiba, citing an interview with Yuji Sugimoto, the Japan head for Bain Capital.
Toshiba on Friday forecast a hefty 63% rise in annual operating profit, to ¥170 billion, after pandemic-induced pain in the last year and as restructuring measures bear fruit.
For the year just ended, Toshiba posted a 20% slide in operating profit, to ¥104.4 billion.
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