iPhone chipmaker TSMC warns of delayed shipments following computer virus attack


Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC) said this morning that it would have to delay shipments and warned of reduced revenues because of the impact a recent virus outbreak has had on its factories that churn out iPhone chips.

The independent semiconductor foundry is recovering from “a debilitating computer virus” that hit the company’s facilities in Taiwan Friday evening, the first time a computer virus had ever managed to bring down a TSMC facility, Bloomberg said Monday.

The incident came as TMC is ramping up mass-production of Apple’s next-generation A12 system-on-a-chip ahead of new iPhone and iPad models this Fall, but the implications for Apple’s launch are currently unclear.

Most of TSMC’s major customers have already been notified.

According to TSMC itself, no confidential information was compromised during the virus attack. “TSMC has taken actions to close this security gap and further strengthen security measures,” finance chief Lora Ho assured investors Sunday.

“TSMC has been attacked by viruses before,” she added. “But this is the first time a virus attack has affected our production lines.” The virus wasn’t introduced by a hacker, the company added in a statement though evidence to support that is inconclusive.

The incident is reportedly self-inflicted: TSMC blamed the infection on a mistake made during software installation which then spread through its network. It estimated its September quarter revenue would be cut by about 3% from a previously forecast $8.45 billion to $8.55 billion. Gross margin would slip by about 1% percentage point.

TSMC said that 80% of the fabrication tools affected by the virus outbreak had been restored and that it expects full recovery sometime later today. Its shares fell more than 1% in Taipei.

Several TSMC factories went offline Friday though the company did not specify which customers would be affected. TSMC is the sole manufacturer of Apple’s in-house designed mobile chips for iPhone and iPad. As its biggest client, the Cupertino technology giant accounts for more than 21% of TSMC’s global revenue.

Cyber crime could cost businesses globally as much as $8 trillion in damage over the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum.