Virus briefly halts production at iPhone chip-maker TSMC

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Apple A12 replaces A11 Bionic
TSMC, the company that manufactures all iPhone and iPad processors, including the A11, had a serious virus problem this weekend.
Photo: iFixit

A computer virus infected the fabrication tools and computers at TSMC’s factories that are likely producing Apple’s next-generation iPhone processors. 

The company is still cleaning the malware off its equipment, but expects to be finished by tomorrow.

The chip manufacturer didn’t specify what it was producing when this problem occurred, but given the timing it was almost certainly the Apple A12. This processor and its predecessors were designed by Apple but produced by this Taiwanese company.

TSMC, a virus, and the 2018 iPhone

This was no minor problem. “TSMC expects this incident to cause shipment delays and additional costs,” the company warned in a statement. But it sees no long-term difficulties. “The Company is confident shipments delayed in third quarter will be recovered in the fourth quarter 2018.”

How all this will affect the release of the 2018 iPhone and 2018 iPad models, which are expected to run the A12 processor and debut in Q3, is not yet known.

TSMC does not think it was attacked by a hacker. Instead, the virus was introduced accidentally.  “This virus 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,” it explained in its statement. “Data integrity and confidential information was not compromised. TSMC has taken actions to close this security gap and further strengthen security measures.”