Apple Chip Maker Hit By WannaCry

Apple Chip Maker Hit By WannaCry
Image: iStock

Although Apple makes a big song and dance about using their own silicon in iOS devices, as well as the T1 and T2 chips used in their MacBook Pro and iMac computers, they don’t actually manufacture those chips. They’re made by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Over the weekend, TSMC was crippled by an outbreak of WannaCry, the highly virulent and damaging malware that caused widespread impact in May 2017.

In a statement, TSMC said “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”.

As well as making chips for Apple, TSMC manufactures processors and other silicon for Qualcomm, NVidia, AMD and others. TSMC says it expects all systems to be restored now but it will make a hit on the company’s bottom line, wiping about 3% from the quarterly revenue – that’s up to $256m based on forcase revenues of $8.45b to $8.55b.

With Apple, which delivers about 21% of TSMC’s revenue, fast approaching the release of their three new iPhones, any delay is likely to be a problem. Last year, it took Apple an extra few weeks to ship the iPhone X after the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were released.

The Snapdragon processors used in many Android devices are made by Samsung.

I’m incredulous that one of the largest chipmakers on the planet did not have processes and systems in place to mitigate this widely known and understood risk. WannaCry has been around for well over a year. Steps for detecting it and limiting its spread are known. Yet TSMC found themselves crippled over the weekend and into this week.

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