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Veeco details 'highly sophisticated' cyberattack, releases 4Q results

Veeco, of Plainview, seen here on Feb. 23,

Veeco, of Plainview, seen here on Feb. 23, 2012, competes with Chinese companies to make tools for manufacturing light-emitting diodes.  Credit: Chris Ware

A Long Island maker of high-tech manufacturing equipment Monday said "highly sophisticated" hackers gained access to confidential corporate and employee information in a cyberattack first disclosed in November.

Veeco Instruments Inc., a Plainview manufacturer of equipment used to make solid-state lighting and other semiconductor devices, said in a government filing after the stock market closed that the hackers had access to the company's computers "over a period of years."

Veeco, which competes with Chinese companies to make tools for manufacturing light-emitting diodes, said it hired forensic experts after learning of the attack.

The investigation has been "largely" completed, Veeco said. The company has taken "steps to mitigate the risk of a similar incident occurring in the future," but it acknowledged it may never be able to identify the hackers.

The average cost of a data breach for U.S. companies is $7.4 million, or $225 per lost or stolen record, according to a June 2017 study by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, a Michigan researcher.

Monday's Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Veeco added detail to the initial report about the cyberintrusion.

After the stock market close Monday, the company also reported lower revenue and a wider net loss for the fourth quarter. In after-hours trading Monday, Veeco shares tumbled 9 percent to $10.

The company reported revenue of $99 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31 compared with $139.7 million in the year-earlier period.

Its net loss was $144.7 million, or $3.11 per diluted share, versus $8.5 million, or 18 cents per share in the 2017 quarter.

In the report after Monday's stock market close, Veeco said it took a noncash charge of $123 million based on a reduction in its stock price.

William J. Miller, who was named Veeco's chief executive in September, blamed the "commoditization" of the equipment used to make light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in China for the diminished revenue.

But Miller said that opportunities in other markets present "exciting growth opportunities."

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