Olympus hit by suspected ransomware attack

The former digital camera specialist has shut down its networks in Europe, Africa and the Middle East while it investigates the incident

Japanese tech giant Olympus has shut down its computer networks in Europe, Africa and the Middle East while it investigates a cyber attack on its systems. 

The firm didn't specify the type of attack, but sources told TechCrunch that Olympus was hit with ransomware in the early hours of 8 September.  

Details of the incident were shared with TechCrunch prior to Olympus' acknowledgement on Sunday, with claims a ransom note had been left behind on infected computers by the ransomware group 'BlackMatter'. 

"Your network is encrypted, and not currently operational," the note reads. "If you pay, we will provide you the programs for decryption." 

BlackMatter is a ransomware as a service group founded as a successor to a cohort of other hacker affiliations, which potentially includes DarkSide, the group that launched the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline earlier in the year. Since June, security specialist Emsisoft has recorded more than 40 separate attacks attributed to BlackMatter, but suggests that the total number of hits could be "significantly higher".

BlackMatter's note to Olympus also includes a web address to a site that is only accessible through the Tor browser which is believed to be the preferred method of communication for the group. Olympus, however, has only alluded to "suspicious activity" and that a specialised response team, including forensic experts, are investigating. 

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"We are currently working with the highest priority to resolve this issue," the firm said in a statement. "As part of the investigation, we have suspended data transfers in the affected systems and have informed the relevant external partners.

"We are currently working to determine the extent of the issue and will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available. We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused."

Olympus manufactures optical and digital reprography technology for medical and life science businesses but is perhaps more famous for its former speciality in digital cameras. However, the firm sold that part of its business in January due to poor sales. 

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