China 'put tiny chips in USA computers to steal tech secrets'

05 October, 2018, 05:57 | Author: Salvatore Jensen
  • Apple categorically denies bombshell report on Chinese'spy microchips in iCloud servers

Microchips secretly inserted by Chinese spies were found on servers at Apple, Amazon, the US Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Navy, and more, according to an in-depth report from Bloomberg on Thursday.

Apple and Amazon stock were both down over 1% at the time of publication.

Needless to say, all involved, including Beijing, deny the allegations, cry wolf, and say the facts are either misrepresented or non-existent, but the fallout is yet to be felt completely. The report claims Amazon became aware of the attack during moves to purchase streaming video compression firm Elemental Technologies in 2015.

Apple said the incident "was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack".

Apple said: "On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server". One US official who said Thursday morning that the thrust of the article was true later expressed uncertainty about that conclusion. The report notes that Amazon, a major bank, and government contractors also fell victim to the attack. Amazon reported the discovery to US authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community.




The report said that a unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army infiltrated the supply chain of computer hardware maker Super Micro Computer Inc (SMCI.PK) to plant malicious chips that could be used to steal corporate and government secrets.

Super Micro Computer may have been the prime target in a hack allegedly carried out by the Chinese military. It's also untrue that AWS knew about servers containing malicious chips or modifications in data centers based in China, or that AWS worked with the FBI to investigate or provide data about malicious hardware. Apple never had any contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other agency about such an incident.

"It's untrue that AWS knew about a supply chain compromise, an issue with malicious chips, or hardware modifications when acquiring Elemental", Amazon said. And during the pre-acquisition process, those motherboards - essentially the brains of servers - were reportedly revealed to contain a rice-grain-sized chip that wasn't part of their original blueprint, "sending a shudder through the intelligence community", Businessweek says. Amazon reported the matter to US authorities, who determined that the chips allowed attackers to create "a stealth doorway" into networks using those servers, the story said.

Amazon subsidiary Amazon Web Services, which provides on-demand cloud computing platforms, was described in the Bloomberg story as having known about the malicious chips and working with the FBI to investigate the matter. Apple and AWS deny these moves involving Super Micro were related to chip worries.

Representatives with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.

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