Chinese spying microchips found in Apple, Amazon computers

Chinese spying microchips found in Apple, Amazon computers

Chinese spying microchips found in Apple, Amazon computers

Chinese spies were able to add small, undocumented chips to motherboards in data servers bought by big U.S. tech companies, according to a blockbuster investigation by Bloomberg published Thursday.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) denied a Bloomberg Businessweek report on Thursday that said their systems had been infiltrated by malicious computer chips inserted by Chinese intelligence agents.

Super Micro Computer may have been the prime target in a hack allegedly carried out by the Chinese military.

Super Micro, Apple, and Amazon all disputed the report.

Nested on the servers' motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn't part of the boards' original design.

The bugged servers and other equipment were sold to USA banks, hedge funds, and even government agencies by the San Jose-based company Supermicro Computer, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, which cites numerous anonymous intelligence and corporate sources in its shocking story that now threatens to seriously shake up the global technology supply chain and do significant damage to Chinese manufacturers and the country's developing microchip industry.

Bloomberg said the retail-to-cloud computing company alerted United States authorities at the time, resulting in an inquiry and a string of firms cancelling Super Micro orders. Apple insiders, too, offered information regarding the hardware attack that Apple reportedly fell victim to.

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

"On this, we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, ´hardware manipulations´ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server", Apple told Bloomberg. This level of hardware hacking would be borderline unprecedented in scope, and Bloomberg claims the FBI opened an investigation (after the incident was reported by Apple) that's still in progress three years later. "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".

An Apple spokesperson said: "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".

Super Micro, a US-based hardware company, is one of the largest server suppliers in the world, accounting for 5.1% of the worldwide server shipments made in Q3 2017. A spokesperson said: "China is a resolute defender of cybersecurity". 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.

An investigation into a potentially devastating cyberespionage campaign allegedly conducted by Chinese state-sponsored threat actors may have compromised systems belonging to Apple, Amazon, a major bank, and USA government contractors.

The tech giant further stated that it was "accidental" and was not a "targeted attack against Apple".

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