Chinese Spies Infected Apple, Amazon Using Tiny Chips

Apple опровергла внедрение чипов китайских спецслужб в свою технику

Apple опровергла внедрение чипов китайских спецслужб в свою технику

A story by Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the United States is in the midst of a secret three-year investigation of the scheme, which it says was uncovered by none other than Amazon. Companies including component manufacturers Huawei and ZTE, as well as surveillance camera maker Hikvision, have all fallen under intense suspicion and scrutiny from the US government in the past year.

The report claims that six current and former national security officials let slip the details on the investigation and its implications.

Amazon and Apple were among 30 companies targeted by Chinese spies through a tiny microchip that infiltrated the supply chains of American technology firms, according to Bloomberg.

A representative for Supermicro at its European headquarters in the Netherlands said the company was unable to provide an immediate comment.

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. Bloomberg quoted "three senior insiders" as saying they had also discovered the tiny chips, which Bloomberg said were much smaller than a penny and were created to transmit information back to China about the data flowing across the servers.

Bloomberg said the retail-to-cloud computing company alerted USA authorities at the time, resulting in an inquiry and a string of firms cancelling Super Micro orders.

In response to the discovery, Apple is reported to have scrapped some 7,000 Super Micro servers in its data centers, and Amazon sold off a Chinese data center.

Amazon Web Services, which was building a super-secure cloud for the Central Intelligence Agency, hired a third-party company to study Elemental's security, a source familiar with the process told Bloomberg. After spotting tiny chips on the servers' motherboards that were not part of the original design, Amazon reportedly showed its findings to U.S. authorities, "sending a shudder through the intelligence community".

Supermicro says that "we are not aware of any investigation regarding this topic nor have we been contacted by any government agency in this regard".

Amazon also offloaded its physical server business in China past year, the alleged reasoning for which is just coming out now as being due to cybersecurity risks.

Apple ended its relationship with Super Micro in 2016, for what it called unrelated reasons.

Apple for its part has already issued a statement strongly refuting all the claims made by Bloomberg in their report.

In its lengthy statement, Amazon said: "We've found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications". However, citing "senior insiders" inside Apple, the report claims that once the company found these malicious chips on Supermicro motherboards, it severed all ties with it. At the time, Elemental had contracts with government customers like the Central Intelligence Agency, and according to the report AWS reported the discovery to federal authorities.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country is a "resolute defender of cybersecurity", and while "supply chain safety in cyberspace is an issue of common concern [.] China is also a victim".

Bloomberg said its report was based on confirmations of the hack by 17 unnamed people.

In addition to Apple and Amazon, nearly 30 companies were affected by the breach, including a major bank and government contractors.

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