By Makiko Yamazaki and Benoit Van Overstraeten
TOKYO/PARIS (Reuters) -A unit of Toshiba Corp was hit by a ransomware attack, overshadowing an announcement of a strategic review for the conglomerate and an upbeat profit forecast.
Toshiba Tec Corp, which makes point-of-sale systems and copiers, said had been hacked by DarkSide, the group the U.S. FBI has blamed for the Colonial Pipeline attack, its French subsidiary said.
It said only a minimal amount of work data had been lost.
Reuters could not access DarkSide’s public-facing website on Friday. Security researchers said DarkSide’s multiple websites had stopped being accessible.
Ransomware attacks have increased in number and amount of demands, with hackers encrypting data and seeking payment in cryptocurrency to unlock it. They increasingly release stolen data as well, or threaten to unless they are paid more.
Investigators in the U.S’s Colonial case say the attack software was distributed by DarkSide, which includes Russian speakers and avoids hacking targets in the former Soviet Union. DarkSide lets “affiliates” hack into targets elsewhere, then handles the ransom negotiation and data release.
Separately Toshiba Corp, which has had to grapple with a series of scandals over the past several years, said it was setting up a strategic review committee to consider ways to increase corporate value and had appointed UBS as financial adviser.
The move follows a $20 billion offer from CVC Capital to take the conglomerate private that Toshiba has said lacked substance. CVC had said it would retain management and the offer was perceived by some in the company as designed to shield former CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani from activist shareholders.
The company has since faced calls from leading shareholders to explicitly seek offers from potential suitors and conduct a strategic review.
Sources have said some other private equity investors such as KKR & Co Inc and Bain Capital are also interested in Toshiba.
The Asahi newspaper reported on Friday that Bain Capital is not considering buying Toshiba, citing an interview with Yuji Sugimoto, the Japan head for Bain Capital.
Toshiba on Friday forecast a hefty 63% rise in annual operating profit to 170 billion yen ($1.6 billion) after pandemic-induced pain in the last year and as restructuring measures bear fruit.
For the year just ended, Toshiba posted a 20% slide in operating profit to 104.4 billion yen.
(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin in Singapore and Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)