Chinese Spy Chips Discovered in Apple, Amazon Data Centers, Report Claims

Apple categorically denies bombshell report on Chinese'spy microchips in iCloud servers

On Thursday, Bloomberg published a blockbuster story alleging that Chinese spies were able to plant tiny microchips in data servers bought by American tech giants including Amazon and Apple. 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.

Once Amazon discovered the problem, it alerted the USA government, the report said.

According to the report, Apple also bought a number of servers from Supermicro, a Bay Area-based server company, around the same time.

According to the Bloomberg report, Chinese spies could have used the chips to monitor the companies as information passed through its network.

Amazon reported the findings to USA authorities, the report stated, but the investigation is still open some three years later.

The revelations came just hours before Vice President Mike Pence was to deliver a stinging rebuke of China in a speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

Weekly Standard Deputy Editor Kelly Jane Torrance on US tensions with China.




The warning came after experts with two prominent U.S. cybersecurity companies warned this week that Chinese hacking activity has surged amid the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing.

The reported manipulation of electronics supply chains to USA companies is certain to sharpen long-standing questions about the crucial but uneasy relationship between the world's two leading economies.

According to the report, Chinese spies placed microchips the size of a sharpened pencil tip in the Chinese-manufactured servers of one of the most prolific server-providers in the world, Supermicro. And since this was a physical infestation, the consequences could be far more severe than a wireless hacking. This microchip provided the hacker with a secret doorway into any network the server was connected to.

Super Micro Computer engineers its equipment in San Jose, but, like the majority of electronics firms, it outsources manufacturing, including to contractors in China. The company is American but the motherboards were assembled mainly in China.

According to the report, the tiny chips were implanted in server motherboards from Supermicro, a publicly traded company in San Jose, California, that a former U.S. intelligence official described to Bloomberg as "the Microsoft of the hardware world". "No consumer data is known to have been stolen", notes the Bloomberg report. To say both companies strongly disagree would be an understatement.

"Over the course of the past year, Bloomberg has contacted us multiple times with claims, sometimes vague and sometimes elaborate, of an alleged security incident at Apple", the Apple statement reads.
"We are not aware of any investigation by the FBI, nor are our contacts in law enforcement".

Apple said in a statement it had "never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server".

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