Chinese Spy Chips Discovered in Apple, Amazon Data Centers, Report Claims
19:39 04.10.2018(updated 19:40 04.10.2018)
Bloomberg Businessweek, which published an exclusive report Thursday based on a lengthy investigation, said that Chinese hacking was "the most significant known supply chain attack ever against US companies." Meanwhile, Apple, Amazon Web Services and Super Micro Computer dispute the report.
Chinese hackers have allegedly implanted tiny spying microchips in servers used by multiple data centers run by some 30 giant US companies, such as Apple and Amazon Web Services, Bloomberg Businessweek reported on Thursday.
The report cited 17 intelligence and corporate sources, who claimed that Chinese spies had also inserted chips inside equipment used by multiple US government agencies, which could potentially give Beijing access to internal servers.
The purportedly compromised hardware was purchased from California-based Super Micro Computer, with Bloomberg claiming that the chips were developed by a specialized computer hardware attack unit in the People's Liberation Army, thus giving China unfettered backdoor access to data.
The spying devices, which Bloomberg said have been the subject of a US government investigation since 2015, were allegedly used for stealing data, gathering intellectual property and trade secrets from American companies.
According to the report, the issue was discovered in 2015 and Super Micro servers were removed by Apple that year.
Both Apple and Amazon have denied Bloomberg's report; in a statement to CNBC, Apple suggested that the publication had confused "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."
The tech giant further stated that it was "accidental" and was not a "targeted attack against Apple."
Amazon also told CNBC that the company had on multiple occasions told Bloomberg "at no time, past or present, have we ever found any issues relating to modified hardware or malicious chips in Super Micro motherboards in any Elemental or Amazon systems."
"We remain unaware of any such investigation," said Super Micro.
The Chinese government has also rejected the report and stated that Beijing was a "resolute defender of cybersecurity."
"We hope parties make less gratuitous accusations and suspicions but conduct more constructive talk and collaboration so that we can work together in building a peaceful, safe, open, cooperative and orderly cyberspace."
In a parallel development, US Vice President Mike Pence claimed that Chinese security agencies were behind a major theft of US technological breakthroughs, including "cutting-edge military blueprints."
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