Apple chip manufacturer TSMC factories taken down by computer virus

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2018
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Apple's chip supplier for the iPhone and iPad, had several factories go offline Friday after being the victim of a targeted computer virus.




Several of TSMC's factories have gone offline, following the infection of factory equipment. The timing may not be the best for the manufacturer, and Apple, as TSMC is currently ramping up chip production for launch of Apple's latest iPhone models that are expected to debut in September.

TSMC was able to isolate the issue and resume work at a portion of the impacted factories, with some not able to get going until Sunday at the latest. As chip manufacturing isn't an instant -- or short -- process, an interruption in production has the potential to cause the loss of weeks of production.

While this appears to be a targeted attack, TSMC says that it was not the work of a network intrusion. This marks the first time TSMC has been hit by a virus, taking down their facilities.

"TSMC has been attacked by viruses before," Chief Financial Officer Lora Ho said speaking to Bloomberg News "But this is the first time a virus attack has affected our production lines."

TSMC has refused comment on any losses of production the company has taken, nor has it remarked about what clients are directly impacted. Historically, the vast majority of TSMC's total capacity is devoted to the A-series processor in early August.

Apple relies on several different manufacturers for various components of the iPhone, but TSMC is presently the only manufacturer of Apple's custom A-series chips. The 2018 iPhone will most likely include an "A12" processor as the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X included the A11.

Lately, TSMC recently had a less than outstanding quarter, and was expecting "high signal digit" growth this quarter, relying heavily on the latest iPhones. In May, AppleInsider reported that TSMC had started production of the next generation 7-nanometer A12 processors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,249member
    Holy Cow. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 48
    rcfarcfa Posts: 763member
    Follow the money...
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 48
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,088member
    Samsung behind this? /s
    claire1viclauyycspheric
  • Reply 4 of 48
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,088member

    Several of TSMC's factories have gone offline, following the infection of factory equipment. The timing may not be the best for the manufacturer, and Apple, as TSMC is currently ramping up production, and producing chips for launch of Apple’s latest iPhone models that are expected to debut in September.

    Sounds like the perfect excuse for analysts to talk down the stock on Monday. Wait for it.
    claire1dysamoriaTomEEsquireCatsjax44jony0
  • Reply 5 of 48
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,069member
    This is concerning. I don't even know if China/Taiwan even has an equivalent to ICS-CERT and NIST SP 800-82 for managing/tracking/mitigating security threats against industrial control systems. Leaning on an offshore manufacturer for business critical services has always been a high risk for Apple because you're at the mercy of regulatory agencies and standards that may not be up to snuff. We've seen it with human rights, human resources violations, and now we see cybersecurity issues. The whole notion of "clean room" operations kind of blows up in your face if you can't keep computer viruses from infecting your wafer fab machinery. This is pure sloppiness by TSMC and there's no way to brush it aside or spin it in any direction other than being a failure on their side. TSMC, expect a call from Tim on this one.
    stevenozTomEiqatedorepressthis
  • Reply 6 of 48
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    dewme said:
     The whole notion of "clean room" operations kind of blows up in your face if you can't keep computer viruses from infecting your wafer fab machinery.

    Nicely put.
    repressthis
  • Reply 7 of 48
    FatmanFatman Posts: 291member
    Chinese govt. — they have a vested interest in Apple failing since they ‘own’ many of the competing phone companies and would love to see their own be the next trillion $ company. They make trademarks, patents, litigation, regulation so restrictive. Plus they have access to all communication in and out of country. Timing is critical since upcoming models are in full production.
    racerhomie3TomEJWSC
  • Reply 8 of 48
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,602administrator
    If you can't see your comment, re-read the commenting guidelines.
    zeus423repressthissphericartharg
  • Reply 9 of 48
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,796member
    Fatman said:
    Chinese govt. — they have a vested interest in Apple failing since they ‘own’ many of the competing phone companies and would love to see their own be the next trillion $ company. They make trademarks, patents, litigation, regulation so restrictive. Plus they have access to all communication in and out of country. Timing is critical since upcoming models are in full production.
    Remember the Kirin 980 is also in mass fabrication at the same company. 
    TomE
  • Reply 10 of 48
    claire1claire1 Posts: 503unconfirmed, member
    lkrupp said:
    Samsung behind this? /s
    Beat me to it. When samsung released the explodable phone idiots were saying Apple was behind it.....



    So Samsung must be behind this!!


  • Reply 11 of 48
    longpathlongpath Posts: 224member
    The article uses the term targeted and the phrase “not an intrusion”. Does this mean that the infection was brought in by sneakernet, or am I reading this wrong?
  • Reply 12 of 48
    claire1claire1 Posts: 503unconfirmed, member

    "Apple chip manufacturer TSMC factories taken down by computer virus"


    Didn't know they used Windows machines. Kinda ironic.
    zeus423racerhomie3MisterKit
  • Reply 13 of 48
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,602administrator
    claire1 said:

    "Apple chip manufacturer TSMC factories taken down by computer virus"


    Didn't know they used Windows machines. Kinda ironic.
    Most manufacturers do.
    dysamoriarepressthisdewme
  • Reply 14 of 48
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,602administrator

    longpath said:
    The article uses the term targeted and the phrase “not an intrusion”. Does this mean that the infection was brought in by sneakernet, or am I reading this wrong?
    TSMC isn't being super-forthcoming, but all it takes is one employee bringing in an infected flash drive.
    PickUrPoisonrepressthisGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 15 of 48
    claire1claire1 Posts: 503unconfirmed, member

    longpath said:
    The article uses the term targeted and the phrase “not an intrusion”. Does this mean that the infection was brought in by sneakernet, or am I reading this wrong?
    TSMC isn't being super-forthcoming, but all it takes is one employee bringing in an infected flash drive.
    If it's that easy they should switch to Macs our have a very limited proprietary OS that only gets the job done.
    macseeker
  • Reply 16 of 48
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    It's as likely the work of people wanting to drive TSMC stock down as with a company or a foreign actor.
    There are as many motivations for those kind of things as there are people willing to do it.
    The kind of virus/phising that attack those kind of machines are often taylored to the task; it's often not just a random virus.
    edited August 2018 TomElamboaudi4
  • Reply 17 of 48
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,959member
    lkrupp said:
    Samsung behind this? /s
    or Huawei or Chinese gov ? OR both ?
    JWSC
  • Reply 18 of 48
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 568member
    claire1 said:

    "Apple chip manufacturer TSMC factories taken down by computer virus"


    Didn't know they used Windows machines. Kinda ironic.
    Most manufacturers do.
    The A12 Bionics fabbed with Windows 98. 
    TomE
  • Reply 19 of 48
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,796member
    wood1208 said:
    lkrupp said:
    Samsung behind this? /s
    or Huawei or Chinese gov ? OR both ?
    As mentioned further up. The Kirin 980 is being manufacturered by TSMC so it wouldn't make sense for Huawei or the Chinese government to be involved.

  • Reply 20 of 48
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,959member
        
    edited August 2018
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