By Matthew Broersma
The chip equipment manufacturing giant has confirmed it is investigating a 'recent' breach of its systems.
ASML, the largest manufacturer of microchip manufacturing equipment, has acknowledged its systems were breached in a "recent" attack, but said no "valuable" files appear to have been accessed.
"ASML Holding recently discovered unauthorized access to a limited portion of its IT systems," the company said in a statement released on Sunday, adding that it "took immediate steps to contain the breach and is conducting an ongoing investigation."
The company, based in Veldhoven in the Netherlands, said the breach was discovered shortly after it occurred, and said a "limited" amount of data seemed to have been accessed.
"ASML has not found any evidence that valuable files, either from ASML or our customers and suppliers, have been compromised," the company stated, saying it could not be "certain" of the hackers' identity.
The company is the world's largest manufacturer of photolithography equipment, and counts Intel, Samsung and TSMC among its customers. ASML said its high profile subjects it to cyber-attacks.
The incident was first reported on Friday by Dutch technology news Website Tweakers.net, which cited anonymous sources within ASML as saying that Chinese state hackers were responsible for the intrusion.
The report didn't indicate when the attack took place, only indicating it seems to have happened either last year or earlier this year, and ASML didn't clarify this point.
State-backed hackers have become involved in increasingly significant incidents of industrial espionage, according to recent reports.
For instance, secret U.S. government documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden earlier this year indicated that U.S. officials believe Chinese spies stole "many terabytes of data" relating to the U.S.' F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as well as other top-secret U.S. military projects.
The theft of the fighter plans was reported in 2013, but this is the first time that the incident has been confirmed by top-secret documents from within the U.S. government itself. The Chinese government is believed to have used the plans to augment its own military aircraft.