Car Trouble

Cyberattack forces Toyota Japan to stop producing cars

After being hit by malware, Toyota supplier Kojima Industries wasn't able to get Toyota its parts on time.

Japanese automobile giant Toyota Camry leaves an assemble line at the company's Tsutsumi Plant in To...
YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

As of this morning, Toyota’s production facilities in Japan have been forced to a screeching halt. One of the automaker’s most important suppliers has been hit by a cyberattack of some sort, Nikkei reports, though Toyota hasn’t exactly been open to sharing details.

“Due to a system failure at a domestic supplier (Kojima Industries Corporation), we have decided to suspend the operation of 28 lines at 14 plants in Japan on Tuesday, March 1st (both 1st and 2nd shifts), Toyota wrote on its website. “We apologize to our relevant suppliers and customers for any inconvenience this may cause.”

An official at Kojima Industries confirmed the “system failure” was, indeed, a cyberattack to Nikkei. “It is true that we have been hit by some kind of cyberattack,” an official close to Kojima said. “We are confirming the damage and we are hurrying to respond, with the top priority of resuming Toyota’s production system as soon as possible.”

It’s no surprise Toyota would want to downplay an indefinite production halt. But there is a bright side: the company plans to restart production as soon as Wednesday.

Who’s behind this? — Details of the cyberattack are still murky at best — not because either company is obfuscating them, either. Yesterday Kojima said it was still figuring out what kind of malware had been used in the attack, as well as working out the identity of the perpetrator and investigating just how much damage had been done to its networks.

If you’re wondering why Toyota would completely shut down its operations based on a cyberattack on just one of its suppliers, it’s because Kojima isn’t just any supplier — the company provides Toyota with parts used in many facets of its vehicles, like necessary components for air conditioning units.

Kojima says the attack stopped the supplier from getting parts to Toyota on time, and the same supply backup hit two other Toyota partners, Daihatsu and Hino.

Nothing’s safe on the internet — Though missing a full day of production can have a ripple effect on more long-term production schedules and goals, Kojima and Toyota really could’ve faced much worse. One production day could’ve easily turned into a week or a month, if the cyberattack had been worse.

We can hope Kojima takes this as an opportunity to upgrade its cybersecurity systems. Even then, though, its networks will not be impenetrable. Even our most critical systems can be hacked. As cybersecurity measures improve around the world, so too do the methods used to get around them.