Published: Fri, October 05, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

Apple, Amazon deny report that Chinese spy chips infiltrated their hardware

Apple, Amazon deny report that Chinese spy chips infiltrated their hardware

Apple Inc and Amazon denied the Bloomberg report that their systems contained malicious computer chips inserted by Chinese intelligence.

The chips, which Bloomberg said have been the subject of a top secret USA government investigation starting in 2015, were used for gathering intellectual property and trade secrets from American companies and may have been introduced by a Chinese server company called Super Micro that assembled machines used in the centers. Super Micro reportedly denied that it introduced the chips during the manufacturing.

Amazon, Apple, and Supermicro strongly disputed the findings.

"One official says investigators found that it eventually affected nearly 30 companies, including a major bank, government contractors, and the world's most valuable company, Apple", write Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley. "Hardware hacks are more hard to pull off and potentially more devastating, promising the kind of long-term, stealth access that spy agencies are willing to invest millions of dollars and many years to get", Bloomberg wrote.

Carrying out the attack involved "developing a deep understanding of a product's design, manipulating components at the factory, and ensuring that the doctored devices made it through the global logistics chain to the desired location", it said.

Apple, however, says the report is bogus.

Apple removed Super Micro servers in 2015 and cut ties with Super Micro the following year.

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Apple denied the account, saying it had investigated Bloomberg's claims.

An explosive report in United States publication claims that China is spying on companies like Apple, Amazon and even USA organisations such as Federal Bureau of Investigation through the computers and servers that were made in China.

Apple said it had refuted "virtually every aspect" of the story in on-record responses to Bloomberg.

And Supermicro wasn't just supplying boards to Elemental; it was manufacturing for hundreds of other customers.

China's ministry of foreign affairs responded by insisting it was a "resolute defender of cyber security".

Citing three internal sources, Bloomberg said Apple also discovered the malicious chips in motherboards supplied by Supermicro in 2015. The report states that US investigators found that the tiny microchip was inserted during the manufacturing process by the People's Liberation Army. Our best guess is that they are confusing their story with a previously reported 2016 incident in which we discovered an infected driver on a single Super Micro server in one of our labs.

The US government on Wednesday warned that a hacking group widely known as cloudhopper, which Western cybersecurity firms have linked to the Chinese government, has launched attacks on technology service providers in a campaign to steal data from their clients. "Over the course of the past year, Bloomberg has contacted us multiple times with claims.of an alleged security incident at Apple", the company said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.

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