WannaCry still alive and kicking – TSMC confirms ‘virus’ that halted operations was the infamous ransomware

After inflicting billions of dollars in damages since its outbreak more than a year ago, the ill-famed WannaCry ransomware continues to claim victims. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which last week reported a malware incident at its plants, has now confirmed that the so-called ‘virus’ affecting its systems was none other than WannaCry.

WannaCry first made headlines in May last year, when it was allegedly let loose by North Korean hackers to wreak havoc wherever the malware could find vulnerable systems – typically outdated Windows installations. The ransomware would encrypt data on infected computers and spread laterally as it demanded ransom from victims seeking to get their data back.

Packing an NSA-leaked exploit and wormable capabilities, the malware spread globally within hours, infecting countless organizations – including hospitals, utility plants, shipping companies, and others.

While the contagion was eventually muffled, the damages soon reached the millions, then the billions, as victims assessed the extent of the destruction, including reputational harm and lost business.

Unfortunately, more than a year after WannaCry was thought to be contained, the infection at TSMC, one of Apple’s largest chip suppliers, marks its resurgence.

TSMC announced last week that a “virus outbreak” had occurred during the software installation for a new tool. The outbreak, later confirmed to be the WannaCry ransomware, forced TSMC to shut down important chip-making facilities in Tainan, Hsinchu and Taichung, “home to some of the cutting-edge plants that produce Apple’s semiconductors,” Bloomberg reports.

Sources at TSMC said the WannaCry variant spreading across its infrastructure did not, however, demand a ransom. And although many speculated that TSMC’s suspension of operations would delay iPhone shipments later this year, analysts cited by Bloomberg said the impact on Apple would be minimal.

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