You may have heard last week that TSMC, the fab creating chips of the likes of NVIDIA and Apple, had its operations interrupted due to a virus. We now have some more information about the incident, including the identity of the malware; WannaCry. Apparently what happened was TSMC was installing a new tool and as it was confirmed to be malware-free, it was not isolated from the company's systems. 'Missoperation' while installing the software for the tool led to the virus spreading through TSMC's network, leading to several machines becoming unusable, which is going to cause some shipments to miss their original dates. The company expects its revenue to drop by as much as 2%, which works out to be around $169 and $171 million.
One somewhat interesting aspect about this episode is that it was WannaCry that caused the downtime, as this specific malware is a year old. If TSMC had installed the long-available patches to protect against the worm, this would not have happened, demonstrating that it is important to keep your system up to date. Additionally, even though WannaCry is well past its targeted window of effectiveness, it can still be a danger as it will move through unpatched systems. Luckily, as the patches are available, TSMC has been able to apply them and has gotten much of the affected up and running.
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