Apple, Amazon deny Bloomberg report on Chinese hardware attack

Apple, Amazon deny Bloomberg report on Chinese hardware attack

Apple, Amazon deny Bloomberg report on Chinese hardware attack

According to Bloomberg, the spy chips were designed for motherboards - the nerve centers for computer equipment - used in data centers operated by Apple, Amazon Web Services and others.

In what's being called a major supply chain attack, Chinese spies used microchips "not much bigger than a grain of rice" to infiltrate almost 30 USA companies, including Amazon and Apple, according to a new Bloomberg report.

Apple has denied that its iCloud server hardware was infiltrated by Chinese spy chips.

Apple responded as well. After spotting tiny chips on the servers' motherboards which were not part of the original design, Amazon reported its findings to USA authorities, "sending a shudder through the intelligence community".

The report cited 17 unnamed intelligence and company sources as saying that Chinese spies had placed computer chips inside equipment used by around 30 companies, as well as multiple USA government agencies, which would give Beijing secret access to internal networks.

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.

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What did Amazon and Apple say?

Apple insists the story is "wrong and misinformed", and has nothing to do with its decision to cut ties with one supplier.

As you might expect, Apple has denied the incident.

According to the report, Apple and Amazon found surveillance chips from China in their server hardware, which was provided by Super Micro located in the country. It said it has never found any malicious chips, had not been informed that such chips were found by any customer, and never been contacted by government agencies on the matter. "Each time, we have conducted rigorous internal investigations based on their inquiries and each time we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them".

Super Micro Computer said it was "not aware" of any government investigation into the issue and no customer had stopped using its products because of fears about Chinese hackers. We also published three companies' full statements, as well as a statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We also want them to know that what Bloomberg is reporting about Apple is inaccurate. 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. "That one-time event was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple".

The bigger issue is that attacks like this are hard to detect and prevent against, the report said.

In response to Bloomberg's latest version of the narrative, we present the following facts: Siri and Topsy never shared servers; Siri has never been deployed on servers sold to us by Super Micro; and Topsy data was limited to approximately 2,000 Super Micro servers, not 7,000.

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