Apple, Amazon deny Bloomberg report on Chinese hardware attack

Randal Sanchez
October 5, 2018

However, all side have come out to vehemently and categorically deny the allegations in theBloombergpiece.

"But I will say the Chinese efforts to threaten us in cyberspace and across the information technology spectrum are a very high priority for us - countering them, establishing structures of deterrence to prevent China from even thinking about doing it, touches on the offensive cyber operations that the president has authorized", Bolton said. Is it Bloomberg and its 17 sources or is it Amazon, Apple, Supermicro, and Beijing?

"We are deeply disappointed that in their dealings with us, Bloomberg's reporters have not been open to the possibility that they or their sources might be wrong or misinformed, said Apple in a statement".

Finally, China's foreign ministry has also issued a kind of response, calling China a "resolute defender of cybersecurity", while adding that "We hope parties make less gratuitous accusations and suspicions but conduct more constructive talk and collaboration so that we can work together in building a peaceful, safe, open, cooperative and orderly cyberspace".

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.

"There are so many inaccuracies in ‎this article as it relates to Amazon that they're hard to count", Amazon wrote in a published statement on its website yesterday, denying that it had found any evidence of modified hardware or malicious chips.

According to the Bloomberg report, the microchips, which were the size of a grain of rice, provided China with a way to remotely access the computers.

The investigation found that Elemental servers, which were assembled by Super Micro, were tainted with tiny microchips that were not part of their design, Bloomberg said.

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"As we shared with Bloomberg BusinessWeek multiple times over the last couple months, this is untrue", Amazon said in a statement, which you can read here.

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.

Supermicro could not immediately be reached for comment, but Bloomberg said the firm denied any knowledge of the espionage or investigation. Elemental's national security contracts weren't the main reason for the proposed acquisition, but they fit nicely with Amazon's government businesses, such as the highly secure cloud that Amazon Web Services (AWS) was building for the Central Intelligence Agency.

The exploit reportedly hit almost 30 American businesses, including Apple, "a major bank", and a host of government contractors.

While the companies disputed the facts in the story, security experts noted that there is growing concern that hackers could launch cyber attacks by inserting malicious chips into hardware sold to government agencies and businesses.

"We must hear directly from the companies potentially affected by this devastating security breach to get a better understanding of what happened", he said.

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