US, UK authorities hose down server supply chain hack claim

Ivan Schwartz
October 9, 2018

According to Bloomberg, these servers wound up in the data centers of nearly 30 companies, including Apple and Amazon.

Bloomberg said on Friday it stood by its story, which was based on 17 anonymous sources.

Apple's press release was equally strong.

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

Apple Inc. told United States lawmakers that its servers weren't compromised and sought to assure them that the company's global supply chain is secure.

An article published by Bloomberg Businessweek this week, called "The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate US Companies", has created something of a ruckus in the cybersecurity sector. "At no time, past or present, have we ever found any issues relating to modified hardware or malicious chips in Supermicro motherboards", the company wrote. "I don't know what to believe, but at the same time it doesn't really matter, because it's possible, and we have to act like it is true to solve the problem".

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"We tried to figure out if there was anything, anything, that transpired that's even remotely close to this", an unnamed senior Apple security executive told Buzzfeed News.

Stathakopoulos said that it has never found any of the vulnerabilities mentioned in the article, or been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a result of such concerns.

"We are aware of the media reports, but at this stage have no reason to doubt the detailed assessments made by AWS [Amazon Web Services] and Apple", the U.K.'s National Cyber Security Center says in a statement issued Friday.

The Verge added the statements made by the companies were backed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The iPhone maker's recently retired general counsel, Bruce Sewell, also told Reuters he called the FBI's then-general counsel, James Baker, past year after being told by Bloomberg of an open investigation into Super Micro Computer, the hardware maker whose products have allegedly been implanted with malicious Chinese chips. "He said, 'I've never heard of this, but give me 24 hours to make sure.' He called me back 24 hours later and said 'Nobody here knows what this story is about'". In a Monday letter to Congress, Apple wrote that the claims in the Bloomberg story were "simply wrong". But it remains unclear whether this was a photograph of an actual board or a digital recreation.

Other reports by GizPress

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