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Nasty Virus Could Delay Chips for 2018 iPhones

One of Apple's most important suppliers has been hit with a virus that could delay the company's 2018 shipments.

Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) confirmed over the weekend that it was targeted by a virus that shut down and negatively affected many of the computer systems that play a role in the development of iPhones and other handsets. TSMC warned that while it had regained access to 80 percent of its systems and those would be up and running on Monday (Aug. 6), some of its customers could face product delays.

"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," TSMC said in a statement. "Data integrity and confidential information was not compromised. TSMC has taken actions to close this security gap and further strengthen security measures."

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The virus could be a problem for Apple. The company has long relied upon TSMC for the chips in its handsets. And now that it's been hit with a virus just a month before the company was set to unveil new iPhones — and at a time when iPhone production should be in full swing — the timing couldn't have been worse.

For its part, Apple hasn't commented on the virus and may not. It's also unclear just how much Apple is relying on TSMC for this year's products. But considering TSMC makes the company's A line of chips in its iPhones, there's a chance that at least a portion of the new 2018 iPhone product line will be impacted.

According to CNBC, which obtained a research note from analyst Fubon Research, TSMC may be required to delay between 1.5 million and 1.7 million A12 chips for this year's iPhones. Out of the estimated 83 million iPhones said to be in production by Fubon Research, that might not mean much.

KGI Securities analysts told investors on Monday that they don't anticipate any issues with iPhone production. 

The only ones who know, however, are Apple and TSMC. And for now, TSMC is simply saying that it's informed its customers but isn't commenting on individual products.