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Apple, Amazon deny claims Chinese spies implanted backdoor chips in company hardware

05 October 2018

The report has been deemed not accurate by companies named in it as well as by the Chinese government. "We did not uncover any unusual vulnerabilities in the servers we purchased from Supermicro when we updated the firmware and software according to our standard procedures".

Citing 17 anonymous sources, the news outlet on Thursday reported that People's Liberation Army operatives managed to add tiny, nefarious microchips to server motherboards manufactured by Super Micro.

Bloomberg's sources claim that Apple removed about 7,000 Super Micro servers from its data centers in 2015 after discovering the malicious chips.

We learn a few things from this statement, namely that Apple has been already asked for comments on the spy chips, and has hinted towards an earlier, much more benign incident. It said it has never found any malicious chips, had not been informed that such chips were found by any customer, and never been contacted by government agencies on the matter.

"Supermicro takes all security claims very seriously and makes continuous investments in the security capabilities of their products".

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Amazon reportedly discovered the issue in 2015 after buying video service firm Elemental.

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Ambassador to the United Nations , took to Twitter to criticize the policy, calling it "needlessly cruel and bigoted". It was detailed in a memo circulated to employees at the United Nations' headquarters in NY last month.

Similarly, in an emailed statement, Apple declared that it had "never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server", writing, "We have repeatedly and consistently offered factual responses, on the record, refuting virtually every aspect of Bloomberg's story relating to Apple".

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.

Apple has issued strong denials of the report, stating: "We are deeply disappointed that in their dealings with us, Bloomberg's reporters have not been open to the possibility that they or their sources might be wrong or misinformed".

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

According to the report, AWS and Apple stopped buying servers from Supermicro in 2016, and soon thereafter Supermicro told investors that it had lost "two major customers". The lengthy statement can be found here (published separately from the original report), along with statements from Amazon, Super Micro and China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which are also named in the story. The Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, also cast doubt on the claim, but cited a US government official who initially confirmed the story before backtracking.

Representatives with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.

Apple, Amazon deny claims Chinese spies implanted backdoor chips in company hardware