Lessons learned from an Industry 4.0 Cyber Incident

If you think of a modern-day factory, you can imagine all kinds of technology being used in an era with far more connectivity than ever before. Many cyber-physical systems, such as lathes and robots, are interconnected, part of an automation system, and are often remotely monitored for optimal performance by both factory operators and smart-equipment suppliers. You can also find autonomy via automatic guided vehicles and other robotics. They all inevitably face a variety of cyber-risks and many have already been breached with significant impact.

A TSMC fab would include a wide variety of complex machines

Let’s dive into TSMC, the largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world. A TSMC fab would include a wide variety of complex machines like the one shown in the image above. Essentially, they’re a system of systems involving many computers and sub systems. A complex environment such as this is vulnerable to devastating disruption, and that is exactly what happened after a breach.


In this incident, TSMC had begun installing a new system. During the installation process, a supplier reportedly installed a software, which happened to contain a malware, onto critical equipment, but without first validating that there was no malware. The virus eventually spread across the network and 3 plants were shut down for 3 days. Clearly, this went on to become an expensive incident as costs exceeded $250 million.


In this incident, TSMC had begun installing a new system. During the installation process, a supplier reportedly installed a software, which happened to contain a malware, onto critical equipment, but without first validating that there was no malware. The virus eventually spread across the network and 3 plants were shut  down for 3 days. Clearly, this went on to become an expensive incident as costs exceeded $250 million.

Imagine the impact if this cyber-attack were to happen today. With the ongoing chip shortages and other supply chain issues, the economic impact could have been much greater. These systems need to be addressed through a more robust cybersecurity program.


A complex environment like this cannot be adequately secured by a network-based, IT-centric approach to cybersecurity. It requires a holistic approach with specific operational knowledge. With any degree of digital transformation in plant operations (e.g., automation, cyber-physical systems, etc.) and facilities (e.g., HVAC, security, etc.), cyber risks need to be actively managed by an operations team.


ResiliAnt’s proprietary solution helps organizations manage their Industrial Internet of Things and Operational Technology cybersecurity risks. Our SaaS platform helps address challenges beginning from tracking inventory, vulnerabilities, and threats, to training personnel, mitigating risks, and responding effectively if/when an incident takes place. Reach us at info@resiliant.co if you have an interest in learning more about our solution.