• Directory of Taiwan

Hackers attacked 10 listed companies in Taiwan during pandemic

Notebook giant Compal Electronics and Advantech among targets: CTWANT

Notebook giant Compal Electronics was reportedly the target of a ransomware attack 

Notebook giant Compal Electronics was reportedly the target of a ransomware attack  (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With more employees working from home worldwide during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, hackers have stepped up their attacks, targeting at least 10 listed companies in Taiwan, reports said Wednesday (Dec. 9).

The revelations followed the confirmation by Foxconn Technology Group that one of its factories in Mexico had been targeted with a ransom demand by a group known as “DoppelPaymer.”

Compal Electronics (仁寶電腦), the second-largest contract computer manufacturer in the world, and Advantech Co., Ltd. (研華科技), among other Taiwanese corporations, faced total combined ransom demands of up to NT$1 billion (US$35.48 million), news website CTWANT reported.

The increase in hacking and ransomware was an indirect result of more workers staying at home during the pandemic. Some used unofficial versions of software or contacted their employer’s computer system via Virtual Private Networks (VPN), giving outsiders the opportunity to interfere.

Since October, at least 10 Taiwanese companies listed on the stock market have faced ransomware attacks, according to CTWANT. The firms are involved in car parts, construction, biotechnology, and traditional industrial sectors, with some deciding to pay ransom amounts between NT$2 million and NT$5 million in order to be able to retrieve the stolen information.

CTWANT reported that at Compal, employees suddenly found a blue screen with the message “Your network was hacked“ on their computers on Nov. 8. They were also warned not to shut down the computers or delete any files.

The company’s IT department held an emergency meeting and told all staff members not to go online. The group responsible was suspected to be “DoppelPaymer,” the same entity named in the Foxconn attack in Mexico.

In the ransom demand, the group mentioned that if Compal failed to pay 1,000 bitcoins (US$18 million) within 72 hours, the price would be raised to 1,100 bitcoins, according to the CTWANT report.