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Toyota Stops Production After Possible Cyberattack at a Supplier

TOKYO — Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, said on Tuesday that it would restart production in Japan after a cyberattack at a major supplier had forced the company to shut down its domestic production.

The stoppage followed a problem with computer systems at Kojima Industries, a manufacturer of automotive components, that disrupted the company’s ordering systems. The problem first appeared Saturday night, and the company decided to shut down its computer network to prevent the issue from spreading to customers, a company spokesman said.

Government officials on Tuesday confirmed that Kojima Industries had been hit by a cyberattack. The company’s website remained down Tuesday afternoon.

In a regular news conference on Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that the government was investigating the source of the attack and warned companies to fortify their cybersecurity in light of the unfolding conflict in Ukraine.

“The risk of cyberattacks is increasing,” he said, adding that “there is the possibility that the damage from the attacks can have a broad impact not just on the supply chains of enterprises themselves, but also their customers.”

Cyberattacks have become increasingly common in Japan in recent years. Japanese companies have been slow to update their networks to account for the growing use of ransomware by criminals, as well as intrusions by state actors. Manufacturers have been the most common targets for the attacks, which can essentially hold computer systems and valuable data hostage.

Like many other automakers, Toyota had to substantially cut production after the pandemic wreaked havoc on global supply chains and led to shortages of semiconductors and other components.

Last year, after the initial waves of the virus passed and global demand for automobiles surged, Toyota announced optimistic plans to produce 9.3 million units worldwide by March 31, the end of its fiscal year.

But skyrocketing demand for semiconductors and recurring waves of infection forced the company to reduce those plans first to nine million and then, in February, to eight and a half million.

Even before the problems at Kojima Industries, Toyota had planned temporary stoppages in March at several factories in Japan because of parts shortages.

The stoppage announced on Monday included Toyota’s 14 domestic factories and affected the production of 13,000 vehicles, a Toyota spokeswoman said. In a statement, the company said it would restart production on Wednesday.

Despite the setbacks, Toyota has managed to use lessons learned during a 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan to adjust to the pandemic’s disruptions better than its competitors, topping the global auto sales charts for two consecutive years.

Hino, a subsidiary of Toyota that manufactures heavy trucks and buses, said in a statement Monday that it would also pause production at two factories because of problems at an unspecified supplier. Another subsidiary, Daihatsu, also paused some production, according to local media reports.

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