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iPhone chip maker TSMC fights virus at factories

Several Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. facilities go down. The iPhone chips may or may not be impacted.

Computer chip in circuit board
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iPhone chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. saw several of its factories knocked offline Friday night because of a virus, but it's unclear whether production of the iPhone components was affected, said a report Saturday by Bloomberg.

The virus wasn't introduced by a hacker, TSMC told the publication, adding that the company had contained the problem and restarted some manufacturing, though some facilities won't be back up till Sunday.

"TSMC has been attacked by viruses before, but this is the first time a virus attack has affected our production lines," the company's chief financial officer, Lora Ho, told Bloomberg. The company didn't immediately respond to CNET's request for further comment. Bloomberg said TSMC plans to provide additional info Monday.

Update, Aug. 7, 10:47 a.m. PT: In a statement Monday, TSMC said the problem arose because a new software tool wasn't scanned for viruses prior to being installed on the company's systems. The bug was a variant of the WannaCry virus and caused software to go down or continually restart. But it wasn't ransomware, a TSMC representative said in an email, because it didn't have the ability to encrypt data and hold it prisoner. TSMC said its main systems, including customer data and production information weren't affected.

The company "expects this virus outbreak event to cause wafer shipment delays in the third quarter, impacting no more than two percent of third quarter revenues," it said in the statement. "This event will also impact third quarter gross margin by approximately one percentage point. The company is confident shipments delayed in third quarter will be completely recovered in fourth quarter 2018, and therefore maintains its forecast of high single-digit revenue growth for 2018 given on July 19, 2018."

Regarding potential impact on the iPhone, the representative said the company isn't allowed to comment on any individual
customer's business.