Best crisis management: How TSMC won in Greater China

Feb 12, 2019
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company took home award at the IR Magazine Awards – Greater China 2018 for response to virus attack

This profile is taken from the report Award-Winning IR – Asia 2018. Click here to download your copy now.

On the evening of August 3, 2018, a computer virus entered Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) internal manufacturing systems through the installation of an infected tool, writes the Taiwan-headquartered firm in its entry for the best crisis management award. 

The virus quickly spread and led to the shutting down of production lines, materials being scrapped and a substantial impact on customers’ delivery schedules. At the same time, the incident was heavily covered in the media with concerns raised over TSMC’s IT security.

But TSMC, with this year’s lifetime achievement award winner Dr Elizabeth Sun at the IR helm, immediately took action, setting off its cyber-incident response procedure and calling up a taskforce of executives from across the company. 

‘Within 24 hours, TSMC assessed the damage, communicated with customers and issued a preliminary statement to the general public,’ states the company in its awards entry. ‘Within 48 hours, TSMC issued a more detailed statement explaining the incident and offered an initial assessment of the financial impact.’ 

Within 72 hours, full operations were resumed and the CEO held a press conference – which was broadcast live – at the Taiwan Stock Exchange to update stakeholders and answer any remaining questions.

The strategy worked: speculation and rumors ceased, says TSMC and, following the conference, ‘all analysts upheld their positive outlook for TSMC’. All customers also accepted the new delivery schedules, the firm adds, voicing their appreciation for the company’s openness in handling the incident, and investor confidence remained intact.

As an indicator of just how well it handled the crisis, the company points to share price movements in the days after the cyber-attack. ‘On the first two trading days after the incident, TSMC’s share price declined 2.2 percent,’ it notes. ‘But it recovered all the losses on the third day with a 2.5 percent gain.’

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