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Windows Ransomware Hit Apple’s Iphone Processor Maker in Taiwan


TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) has been forced to shut down its operations on the first week of August due to a malware attack in its factories. This has happened for the first time when TSMC's regular business operations have come to a standstill due to any cyber attack.


TSMC is the maker of A-series processors that powers popular gadgets of Apple, which includes iPhone. TSMC also builds chips for NVIDIA, Qualcomm and AMD, apart from building chips for Apple (reportedly A12 series for NextGen of iPads and iPhones). However, TSMC's most valued customer is Apple.


Several fabrication plants of TSMC were hit by a variant of WannaCry ransomware, which functions by infecting computers running on operating system of Microsoft's Windows, on August 3. The intensity of infecting the systems varied from one plant to another.


As per a statement, TSMC told that the problem has been identified and addressed. As on August 5 at 14:00 p.m., TSMC said that around 80% of the tools which were affected due to the ransomware got recovered. Until now, the company has only been able to find that the ransomware found a gateway into the company's systems via an unidentified vendor. However, it is yet to find the exact source causing the infection.


The Senior VP (Vice President), Spokesperson and the Chief Financial Officer of TSMC, Lora Ho, in his comment said, "this virus outbreak occurred due to misoperation during the software installation process for a new tool, which caused a virus to spread once the tool was connected to the company's computer network".


TSMC, however, confirmed that confidential information and data integrity were not compromised in this attack, and notifications have been sent to all the customers. Lora Ho confirmed through a telephonic conversation on 5 August that "TSMC has taken actions to close this security gap and further strengthen security measures".


As per the estimate given in the press release of TSMC, the impact of the attack to Q3 (3rd Quarter) revenue will be around 3%, whereas gross margin impact will be around one percentage point. The press release further states that TSMC is quite confident on the recovery of delayed shipments of Q3 by Q4 this year, and thus still maintaining its forecast of high revenue growth for this year in US dollars, as stated on July 19.

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