Apple chip fabricator TSMC says a number of fab tools infected by computer virus

“Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, said on Saturday a number of its tools had been infected by a virus and the problem had been contained,” Reuters reports. “TSMC, a major supplier for Apple Inc, said a number of tools were infected on Friday.”

“‘TSMC has contained the problem and found a solution, and recovery of the tools is in progress,’ it said in a statement,” Reuters reports. “Rumors that TSMC had suffered a hacker attack were incorrect, it said.”

“The company said there was uneven impact across several of its fabs,” Reuters reports. “‘The degree of infection varies by fab. Certain fabs returned to normal in a short period of time, and we expect the other fabs will return to normal in one day.'”

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“It is unclear who targeted TSMC, the world’s biggest contract manufacturer of chips for companies including Apple and Qualcomm. It is the first time a virus had ever brought down a TSMC facility,” Bloomberg News reports. “‘TSMC has been attacked by viruses before, but this is the first time a virus attack has affected our production lines,’ chief financial officer Lora Ho told Bloomberg News. She declined to discuss how much revenue it would lose as a result of the disruption, or whether the facilities affected were involved in making iPhone chips.”

Bloomberg News reports, “The implications are unclear for Apple.”

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22 Comments

    1. Probably not. Depends upon what Programmable Logic Controller, PLC, the vendor is using for its production lines. It’s been ages since I was a consultant to the industry, but it could be Microware or VxWorks or probably something else altogether by now.

  1. Organizations with production lines, or power grid managers need to learn from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL): one computer on the Internet and the other on a LAN completely isolated from the Internet, and perhaps not even using TCP/IP for networking. Isolation of sensitive systems from the Internet is an important way to secure those tools. [And yes, they probably use Windows].

    1. @Offline
      Your not really up to speed on how these things work. Many companies run whats called an ‘air gap’ totally offline to the outside world and its very easy to breach, not even rocket science. The components that build the machines in a totally different factory can be compromised and any person working between the air gap can be compromised taking a usb across into the complex. Hackers don’t always require the internet to infect machines all they need is an insider or access to a parts manufacturer.

  2. As Apple becomes a trillion dollar company, and by default a symbol and harbinger of the US economy, there are a lot of entities with a motive to see it hiccup or fail.

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