The world’s largest carmaker Toyota will shut down all of its plants across Japan and the factories of two subsidiaries Hino and Daihatsu after a suspected cyber attack on one of the carmaker’s largest parts suppliers.
The decision by Toyota comes as governments around the world warn companies of cyber attack risks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Senior Japanese officials told the Financial Times they feared leading companies were now targets for reprisals after the government joined other G7 industrial nations in applying tougher sanctions against Russia.
Toyota, which did not specify the nature of the attack nor identify Russia as a source, said it would stop production at all 14 domestic plants. Toyota employs more than 70,000 workers in Japan.
Hino also said on Monday it would shut down domestic plants on Tuesday. Daihatsu could not be reached for comment.
Toyota said the shutdown followed “system failures at a domestic supplier”, which it later identified as the general component maker Kojima Press Industries.
The carmaker added that shutting down all domestic plants for one day would reduce production by 13,000 vehicles. It is investigating whether it can resume operations on Wednesday.
Japanese media, without citing sources, reported the attack on Kojima appeared to have affected Toyota’s system for making and receiving orders for parts.
Kojima Press Industries’ website was inaccessible on Monday night. The company said it had been attacked by a targeted virus from outside, adding that it was considering informing the police.
Japan’s ministry of economy, trade and industry said in a statement on Wednesday last week: “Given the current situation, the potential risk of cyber attacks is increasing.”
Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Sunday that the country had decided to join western nations in removing some of Russia’s banks from the Swift global payments system.
The shutdown of Toyota’s factories comes at a time when the company has been aiming to ramp up production following stoppages caused by the global chip shortage and Covid-19 pandemic last year.
Officials at the cabinet secretariat’s cyber security centre said they were aware of the reports and were gathering information with the ministry of industry, but said they could not determine where the attack originated.
However, one adviser to the Japanese government on cyber security issues said concerns were rising that Russian president Vladimir Putin had unleashed hackers with orders to attack targets in countries that were prominent supporters of Ukraine.
“Normally, you would look at an attack on Toyota or Kojima as financially motivated, but there does not seem to be evidence of that here,” said the adviser.