'Made in China' May Have High-Tech Spying Implications: Longform
02:50, Oct 5, 2018
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An explosive report in USA publication claims that China is spying on companies like Apple, Amazon and even United States organisations such as Federal Bureau of Investigation through the computers and servers that were made in China. The report states that US investigators found that the tiny microchip was inserted during the manufacturing process by the People's Liberation Army.
In a statement to Bloomberg Businessweek that was also provided to Fox News, Apple said that Bloomberg's reporting is "inaccurate" and the sources in the story might be "wrong or misinformed".
It said dozens of large U.S. firms and agencies were using the hardware - but Amazon first discovered the chips, the size of a grain of rice, during a security review it ordered after buying a software firm called Elemental three years ago. Elemental's servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA's drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships.
But Supermicro, Amazon, and Apple are roundly denying the report.
Apple pointed Business Insider to the statement it sent Bloomberg, which said: "Apple has never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server". "China is a resolute defender of cybersecurity", the Chinese foreign ministry told Bloomberg.
Apple, Amazon and Super Micro have rejected Bloomberg's claims, calling them "untrue".
A report by The Information did claim that the reason Apple and Supermicro severed ties was "a potential security vulnerability in at least one data center server", which may or may not have been the infected driver in question.
As for the servers in question, Bloomberg reported that an investigation began more than three years ago after Amazon discovered a microchip on the motherboard of AWS Elemental's servers that were reportedly assembled by Supermicro Computer Inc., which has subcontractors in China. It said it has never found any malicious chips, has not been informed by any customer that such chips have been found, and has never been contacted by any government agencies on the matter.
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.
These chips could then reportedly be activated to compromise the networks of enterprise companies. 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. We've found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications.
If these spy chip allegations really did happen, why would Apple and Amazon deny it? However, a total of 17 individuals claiming to have deep internal knowledge of both Apple and Amazon claim that the reasoning behind the removal of Supermicro systems was due to the discovery of exceptionally tiny spy chips.
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