Cyber attack hits Tower

September 07, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Cyber attack causes Tower to halt chip operations
Specialty foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (Migdal Haemek, Israel) has halted certain operations in its wafer fab as the result of a cyber attack

Tower makes analog, mixed-signal, RF chips used across many sectors including: automotive, mobile communications and infrastructure, medical and aerospace and defence. It is not clear how much chip production may be lost due to the event.

In a statement the company said it had implemented the halt in a gradual and organized manner and also halted the operation of certain server computers after identifying a "security incident" on some of its systems. The foundry said it has notified relevant authorities and is working with law enforcement organizations and with a leading team of worldwide experts, coordinated with its insurance providers, in order to "recover" the impacted systems as soon as possible.

Tower said it has implemented measures to prevent expansion of the event. The company did not provide more information about source of the cyber event, what had been targeted or how much disruption the halt in operations would cause. Tower said that so far there had been no assessment of the effect on the company.

The discussion of "recovery" – presumably refers to recovery of control. It is possible that Tower has been a victim of industrial espionage or even politically-motivated cyber attack. Alternatively it could have been infected with a computer virus either by mischance or by more deliberate and sinister means. In the latter case, the company could have been subject to a ransom demand.

One of the best-known instances of industrial cyberattack was the use of the Stuxnet computer virus, first reported in 2010, which targeted the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems of industrial plant. It is believed to have been deployed as a cyber weapon against Iran and to have caused damage to that country's nuclear program.

One expert at a cyber security firm told an Israel newspaper he thought Tower had been the victim of a ransom attack that was not specifically directed at it but one directed at multiple companies.

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