In late February, Toyota’s Australian branch reported a cybersecurity breach. The attack was a big blow to the branch’s operation because it prevented the company from closing car sales. The staff members lost access to email and other cloud-based information, and they were instructed to switch off their computers. The attack followed other cyber attacks in the country, including the attack on the Parliament House computer network and a hospital in Melbourne.
Is It APT32?
What the company described as “an attempted cyber attack” was attributed by some industry experts to APT32, a Vietnamese cybercrime group that focuses on the automotive industry. It is a cyber espionage group known for intrusions into private sector companies across multiple industries. The hackers have also targeted foreign governments, dissidents, and journalists in the past.
Toyota neither attributed the cybersecurity breach involving its Australian branch to APT32 hackers nor confirm the theory that the attack was done to get into Toyota’s central network in Japan, which is more secure. While the company did not disclose any information about the attack, it reported that the Australian branch would start an internal IT audit.
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Stolen Info of 3.1 Million Customers
In late March, Toyota Japan reported another network security breach. This incident not only strengthened the APT32 theory but also emphasized the importance of ensuring that business networks are secure. In its announcement, Toyota Japan said the hackers obtained access to the information of 3.1 million Lexus and Toyota car owners from several subsidiaries, including Toyota Tokyo Sales Holdings, Tokyo Tokyo Motor, Tokyo Toyopet, Toyota Tokyo Corolla, Nets Toyota Tokyo, Lexus Koishikawa Sales, Jamil Shoji (Lexus Nerima), and Toyota West Tokyo Corolla.
Toyota Japan announced that there’s an ongoing investigation to find out if hackers exfiltrated any of the data that they got access to. The carmaker didn’t say what type of consumer data was stolen by the hackers but reported that the information does not include financial details.
“We take this situation seriously, and will thoroughly implement information security measures at dealers and the entire Toyota Group,” said a spokesperson from the top-selling car brand. On the same day, Toyota Vietnam and Toyota Thailand also announced cybersecurity attacks but did not say whether they are connected to the network breach in Japan.
The Final Word
This Toyota data breach only shows that hackers are more creative nowadays. Even international companies like Toyota cannot be complacent. A cybersecurity attack can put so many people’s information in the wrong hands, damage your reputation, and make you lose consumers’ trust. If you own a business, big or small, always be on your toes and do everything you can to protect your customers’ and their information. Ensure that your network is secure. Talk to an IT security consultant or schedule an IT audit as a preventive measure to avoid a data breach.