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Malware Hits Plants of Chip Giant TSMC

A piece of malware has caused significant disruptions in the factories of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s biggest contract chipmaker.

TSMC’s most important customer is Apple, whose iPhone and iPad products use TSMC chips, but the company also supplies semiconductors to Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD, MediaTek and Broadcom.

In a statement published on its website on Sunday, the company described the incident as a “computer virus outbreak” that impacted an unspecified number of computer systems and fabrication tools in Taiwan.

The infection was discovered on August 3 and the semiconductor foundry said it had restored 80 percent of systems by August 5, with a full recovery expected by August 6.

The company expects the incident to have a significant impact on its revenue for the third quarter. Financial Times reported that its revenue will take a hit of roughly $255 million.

“TSMC expects this incident to cause shipment delays and additional costs. We estimate the impact to third quarter revenue to be about three percent, and impact to gross margin to be about one percentage point. The Company is confident shipments delayed in third quarter will be recovered in the fourth quarter 2018, and maintains its forecast of high single-digit revenue growth for 2018 in U.S. dollars given on July 19, 2018,” TSMC stated.

“Most of TSMC’s customers have been notified of this event, and the Company is working closely with customers on their wafer delivery schedule. The details will be communicated with each customer individually over the next few days,” the company added.

According to TSMC, the malware made its way onto the network due to “misoperation” during the installation of a new tool. The company said the incident did not affect data integrity and it did not result in confidential information getting compromised.

UPDATE. TSMC revealed that the piece of malware involved in the incident was a variant of the WannaCry ransomware. 

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.