Apple, Amazon deny report that Chinese spy chips infiltrated their hardware

Super Micro Computer

Amazon and Apple have also denied the report from Bloomberg, both claiming they are unaware of any malicious chips planted within their servers.

Bloomberg Businessweek says it received confirmation of the attack from 17 people including government intelligence officials, and employees of Amazon and Apple.

The Bloomberg News report said the chips, the size of a grain of rice, were used on equipment made for Amazon, which first alerted U.S. authorities, and Apple, and possibly for other companies and government agencies.

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 U.S. companies". A secret investigation remains open three years later.

The report also quoted denial of the reporting by Amazon Web Services, a cloud-services subsidiary of Amazon, which in 2015 acquired a company, Elemental, whose servers reportedly were affected by the Chinese operation.

The report of Chinese hacking chips being systematically added to servers produced in China comes after Donald Trump's administration has placed tariffs on technology components being imported from China.

The company has denied the claims made in the extensive report by Bloomberg Businessweek, however, that hasn't stopped a share price onslaught.

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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.

Neither AWS, Super Micro nor the Chinese foreign ministry immediately responded to requests for further comment. That one-time event was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple. The report alleges that data center hardware purchased from a Chinese company called Supermicro included Chinese spy chips that put the security of the networks at risk.

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

Apple, in turn, said that internal investigations have been conducted based on Bloomberg queries, and "we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them". Apple never had any contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other agency about such an incident. It was this incident which may have led to the severed business relationship back in 2016, rather than the discovery of malicious chips or a widespread supply chain attack.

The US government on Wednesday warned that a hacking group widely known as cloudhopper, which Western cybersecurity firms have linked to the Chinese government, has launched attacks on technology service providers in a campaign to steal data from their clients.

There have been increased concerns about foreign intelligence agencies infiltrating USA and other companies via so-called "supply chain attacks", particularly from China where multiple global tech firms outsource their manufacturing.

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