Published: Thu, October 04, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

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

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

According to the Thursday report, the chips were hidden on server motherboards being sold by the San Jose-based company Supermicro, during the manufacturing process in China.

The main motive of the hack was to gain access to secret corporate data on a long-term basis and not steal any consumer data.

But Apple was also unusually direct in its refutation of Bloomberg's report, which cited 17 sources inside the USA government and the affected companies detailing the manipulation of Supermicro's motherboards while they were being manufactured in China.

Bloomberg's report says AWS discovered spy chips on servers built for Portland's Elemental Technologies, founded by the late Sam Blackman.

The attack was reportedly discovered in 2015 by the U.S. intelligence services, as well as by Apple and Amazon as the companies purchased servers made by Super Micro Computer.

"(In the) ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines.

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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.

Amazon and Apple have both strongly denied the results of the investigation. "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", the company said in a statement provided to Bloomberg.

Amazon Web Services also claimed the report is inaccurate, saying that the company "found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications". "We have repeatedly and consistently offered factual responses, on the record, refuting virtually every aspect of Bloomberg's story relating to Apple".

The company instead suggested that Bloomberg's sources may have been mistaking an incident in 2016 when an accidental vulnerability was found on a single Super Micro server inside the company. The operation is thought to have been targeting valuable commercial secrets and government networks, the news agency said.

However, Bloomberg says the denials are in direct contrast to the testimony of six current and former national security officials, as well as confirmation by 17 anonymous sources which said the nature of the Supermicro compromise was accurate. Amazon employs stringent security standards across our supply chain - investigating all hardware and software prior to going into production and performing regular security audits internally and with our supply chain partners.

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