ASML victim of data theft by ex-employee in China

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Employees of ASML in Veldhoven
NOS NewsAmended

Chip machine builder ASML has been robbed by a former employee in China. The employee brought information about technology from the Veldhoven company, ASML writes in the annual report.

“The incident happened recently,” said a spokesman for the company. “The investigation is still ongoing, so we can’t really go into details yet.” ASML has reported the incident to the authorities in the United States and in the Netherlands.

It also had to be reported in the US because the theft may have also violated US export regulations. ASML has increasingly become part of geopolitics between the United States and China. Chips and chip machines play an important role in this.

“With our unique position and the growing geopolitical tensions in the chip industry, we see increasing security risks,” the company acknowledges. For example: “ransomware and phishing attacks to obtain intellectual property or to disrupt the continuity of the company.”

Extremely annoying

At first sight, the incident has no impact on business operations, the company said. “It is extra annoying that it is caused by our own employee,” says the spokesperson.

In 2015, ASML was also robbed once by its own employees, then in Silicon Valley. The American and Chinese perpetrators then sold the information to competitor Xtal.

At the time, there were rumors that the Chinese government was involved in the theft. ASML strongly contradicted that. After investigation and a lawsuit, there were no indications for this either. “The former employees and Xtal wanted to enrich themselves with the theft,” the company concluded at the time.

Minister Schreinemacher for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation said in a response that she finds the theft at the company worrying. “ASML goes to great lengths to secure its valuable technology. This is in the interest of all of us. It is therefore very worrying that such a large and reputable company is affected by economic espionage.”

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