Virus Forces Honda To Halt Production at Japan Plant

WannaCry ransomware found in computer network.

by on Jun.22, 2017

Honda's Sayama, Japan, plant that produces the Odyssey minivan was shut down due to a ransomware attack earlier this week.

This story includes update information.

Honda was temporarily forced to shut down one of its key Japanese assembly plants this week after discovering the WannaCry ransomware virus in the plant’s computer network.

The shutdown was expected to delay production of some of the automaker’s key product lines, including the Accord sedan and Odyssey minivan. The Sayama plant, which is located about an hour northwest of Honda’s Tokyo headquarters, typically produces about 1,000 vehicles daily.

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The WannaCry virus was discovered about a month ago after rapidly infecting computer networks around the world. It briefly shut down operations at a number of British hospitals, among other things and caused production delays at both French automaker Renault and its Japanese alliance partner Nissan.

In all, more than 1 million computers in 150 countries were affected by the ransomware attack that U.S. intelligence agencies believe was unleashed by the North Korean government.

(Honda set to reveal all-new Accord on July 14. Click Here for the story.)

It is unclear if the virus found in Honda’s network had been there since the original WannaCry assault began in mid-May or if it was part of a new wave of infections, possibly with an update of the original ransomware.

“On June 19, 2017, Honda’s Sayama Auto Plant experienced a short interruption in normal production caused by the shutdown of several older production line computers infected with the “Wannacry” virus,” the company said in a statement.

“A total of approximately 1,000 units were not produced as planned as a result of this interruption. Production has resumed and Honda has taken steps to reinforce its virus protection regimen to avoid any similar occurrences in the future.”

Reports from Japan indicate the virus was found to have affected the carmaker’s computer networks in North America, Europe, China and other parts of the world, as well.

(Click Here for a first drive of the 2017 Accord.)

The original version of WannaCry was designed to lock up computers, advising users to pay a ransom to regain access to their data. There have been warnings issued by cybersecurity experts that an updated version of WannaCry may strike in the future. The North Korean government is believed to be using such malware to help it raise currency to sidestep extensive economic sanctions placed on the country in an effort to get it to halt its nuclear weapons program.

Among the thousands of companies impacted by the original WannaCry attack, both Renault and Nissan were forced to halt production at a number of their plants in Japan, Britain, India and Romania for a day or more.

Honda has now resumed production at the Sayama plant.

(Late to the game, maybe, but Honda has big plans for autonomous vehicles. Click Here for this inside report.)

Traditionally, hackers needed to find ways to get computer users to inadvertently provide passwords to their networks in order to spread viruses like WannaCry, but experts say new software is being developed that can bypass that step. The North Korean ransomware attack appears to have been made possible by a security hole in older versions of Microsoft Windows. Businesses are often slow to upgrade to newer versions of the popular operating system, and many fail to activate updates designed to fix such security lapses.

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