Apple, Amazon deny report of Chinese cyberattack

Apple, Amazon deny report of Chinese cyberattack

The servers supplied by Microcenter were used by major tech companies including Amazon, a major bank, Apple, Microsoft, and Google. "Multiple people familiar with the matter say investigators found that the chips had been inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China", notes Bloomberg. Amazon disputes Bloomberg's report that the company took its findings to authorities, setting off alarm bells across the intelligence community as Supermicro has hundreds of government customers.

Supermicro's customers include Elemental Technologies, a streaming services startup which was acquired by Amazon in 2015 and provided the foundation for the expansion of the Amazon Prime Video platform. One affected company had its servers used by US government clients, including Department of Defense data centers, Navy warships and the Central Intelligence Agency in its drone operations.

But Supermicro, Amazon, and Apple are roundly denying the report.

Bloomberg reported that Amazon performed a "network-wide audit" after the company found the malicious chips in Super Micro hardware in its Beijing data center. "That one-time event was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple", the company wrote. The Chinese government claimed to be "a resolute defender of cybersecurity" in statements to Bloomberg.

"Apple is 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", the company said in a statement to AppleInsider on Thursday.

That just leaves Bloomberg, which claims the issue was first discovered by Apple in May, 2015 and quietly reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Both Apple and Amazon discovered the surveillance chips in 2015 and took steps to replace the affected servers, according to the report, which described close cooperation between USA investigators and affected companies.

It added: "We have repeatedly and consistently offered factual responses, on the record, refuting virtually every aspect of Bloomberg's story relating to Apple". Not part of the motherboards' original design, the malicious chips are believed to have been implanted at factories run by Chinese manufacturing subcontractors and created to offer "long-term access to high-value corporate secrets and sensitive government networks".

Bloomberg also reported that Apple in 2015 found malicious chips in servers it purchased from the hardware maker, then stopped doing business with Super Micro in 2016 for reasons that were not related, citing three unidentified company insiders. No consumer data was stolen as part of the alleged campaign, according to the report.

"Apple has never found malicious chips, ´hardware manipulations´ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server", the company said.

Amazon and Apple both denied there was any substance to Bloomberg's claims.

Supermicro said it was unaware of an investigation, while United States investigators, including the FBI, declined to comment.

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