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Ransomware Attack on Toshiba Halts Production of NAND Flash

Posted by John Pallazola

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Oct 19, 2017 1:15:00 PM

Ransomware attacks forced Toshiba to cease NAND flash memory production, costing the business the equivalent of 400,000TB in SSD storage. Toshiba downed tools for about six weeks following the attack. After that happened, the production loss could trigger a NAND supply crisis.
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The world's NAND flash market was supposed to see improvements to the undersupply situation starting the fourth quarter, but the Toshiba fab shutdown has now created uncertainties.
Demand for NAND flash chips has been driven by an increase in the average memory content in smartphones and server market growth, while growth in the supply has been constrained by chipmakers' slower-than-expected transition to 3D technology. The global supply of NAND flash memory fell short of demand in the latter half of 2016 and has remained tight since.
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End-market demand isn't as strong as expected, and the NAND flash price rally has gone out of proportion, unable to reflect the real market demand. Channel distributors have become reluctant to place orders as the consumption of end-market devices, such as SSDs, is being discouraged by their high prices. The price hikes already started to show an adverse impact on demand at the end of the second quarter.
However, Toshiba has denied a report alleging its NAND flash factories were attacked by ransomware. Taiwan's Digitimes on Monday reported that Toshiba halted production for three to six weeks while it sorted out a ransomware mess. Doing so, the report suggested, saw production of 100,000 wafers deferred.

Analyst firm DRAMeXchange, which specialises in solid-state memory, reached out to the supply chain and found no evidence of missing shipments. The firm's senior research manager Alan Chen said “there is no module supplier suspending quotes or shipments after knowing this information."

Chen didn't rule out a disruption of some sort, saying “This incident is expected to be resolved immediately with Toshiba quickly ramping up production to lower or fully compensate for the wafer deficit.”

But Toshiba did smack it down: the company's media relations team stated “There is no such a fact that Toshiba Memory's Yokkaichi Operation is suspending its production line as reported in DigiTimes.”

Which will come as a relief to us all, as vendors of servers, PCs, smartphones and myriad other devices have spent 2017 complaining about the extra costs they're currently carrying. Those costs will have hit Reg readers in the pocket one way or another: either you've bought kit at inflated prices, or copped the effects of profits lowered by high component prices

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Topics: nand flash, nand

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