The recent hack of Toei Animation, which resulted in a delay to the production schedules various anime series that continues to effect them to this day, has been found to have been the consequence of a targeted ransomware attack.
On March 11, Easter came early when Toei Animation announced that five days earlier, an unauthorized third party accessed the company’s network and proceeded to cause a partial shutdown of the company’s computing systems. Specifically, the hack halted internal systems that were used in the production process of their various anime series.
As such, the hack kept on giving by subsequently affecting the broadcast schedules for One Piece, Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai, Delicious Party Precure, and Digimon Ghost Game, starting with the respectives episodes of each series slated to air on the weekend of March 12th-13th.
On March 8th, the NHK reported (via machine translation provided by DeepL) that after a preliminary investigation, Toei Animation “believed that the cyber-attack was caused by ‘ransomware,’ a ransom-type computer virus.”
Information in regards to the demands of the ransom, the type of virus the hacker used, and the origin of the virus was not revealed.
As defined by the FBI, a ransomware attack is “a type of malicious software, or malware, that prevents you from accessing your computer files, systems, or networks and demands you pay a ransom for their return. Ransomware attacks can cause costly disruptions to operations and the loss of critical information and data.”
Toei also confirmed that they had shut down parts of its internal systems to investigate the extent of the virus’ reach.
The Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (JPCERT) recently revealed that since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, ransomware cyberattacks have become more and more common against Japanese companies , with reported attacks jumping from 20,000 in 2019 to 35,000 in just the first 9 months of 2021.
According to the agency, this dramatic increase in cyberattacks is the result of criminal groups taking advantage of people working from home.
In February 2022, Toyota and its supply chain companies were targeted by a similar hack which caused its production processes to halt, with March seeing attacks on three more high-profile companies.
According to the NHK, a survey conducted of 1547 Japanese companies of all sizes by the private research company Teikoku Databank between March 11th and 14th found that 28.4% of the companies had “received a cyber attack within a month”.
Earlier this week, the social media accounts belonging to a number of the series affected by the hack announced that they would soon return to releasing new episodes.
These series include Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai, which kicks off the return of Toei Animation’s regular release schedule on April 16th, and One Piece, Digimon Ghost Game, and Delicious Party Pretty Cure, the three of which will follow on April 17th.
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Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, on the other hand, is a different story.
Originally, the next movie in the Dragon Ball franchise was scheduled to come out on April 22nd, but in light of the studio’s admission that the hack continues to affect the film’s production, Toei has now pushed its release back to an unknown date.
Conversely, the Dragon Ball Super Super Hero novel, despite being similarly pushed back from its intended April 25th release, has already been given a new street date of June 30, 2022 by Shueisha’s official Shonen Jump store.
Given the novel’s original release date being so close to the film’s, some fans have speculated that the film may now hit theaters some time between late June and early July.
How do you think Toei has handled this hacking debacle? Do you think the delay of various animes was a failure on Toei’s IT department? Sound off on social media or in the comments down below!