Manufacturing giant Aebi Schmidt hit by ransomware

Aebi Schmidt, a European manufacturing giant with operations in the U.S., has been hit by a ransomware attack, TechCrunch has learned.

The Switzerland-based maker of airport maintenance and road cleaning vehicles had operations disrupted Tuesday following the malware infection, according to a source with knowledge of the incident.

Systems went down across the company’s international network, including its U.S. subsidiaries, but much of the damage was in the company’s European base. A number of systems connected to the Aebi Schmidt network across the world were left paralyzed. The source said systems necessary for manufacturing operations were inaccessible following the attack. The company’s email is also said to be affected.

It isn’t immediately known what kind of ransomware knocked the company’s systems offline.

The multinational manufacturing giant recently expanded its U.S. presence with the acquisition of M-B Companies, a maker of snow removal and cleaning machines, following earlier acquisitions of winter maintenance equipment maker Meyer Products and Swenson Products.

After several efforts to reach the company by email, phone or unsolicited LinkedIn messages, spokesperson Thomas Schiess confirmed a systems outage, specifically “e-mail system troubles,” in a Facebook message. “I can confirm that the availability of other systems was or may still be limited, our specialists are still working on resolving the issue, the cause is not yet clear,” he said, but would not comment further.

On Wednesday, Schiess said its operational systems — including its SAP business and sales systems — are working and production is “up and running.” But, he said, the company’s Windows network is “affected by a virus” and other systems were shutdown as a precaution.

“Technicians are working hard to restore the Windows environment, but this will take some time,” he said.

But the source said employees were sent home — in some cases forced to take unpaid leave.

Schiess would not comment on claims of ransomware specifically, but the source said staff were told during an all-hands meeting Wednesday that the incident was a “ransomware attack.”

Aebi Schmidt is the latest company downed by ransomware in recent weeks.

Aluminum manufacturing giant Norsk Hydro was forced offline briefly following a ransomware attack in March. The company quickly recovered after it put in place its backup recovery process. It was a better response than drinks company Arizona Beverages, which was hit by ransomware a month later, causing its systems to shutter for a week — despite warnings from the FBI weeks earlier that the company was infected with malware lying dormant.

Updated Wednesday with additional details and new reporting.