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China inserted surveillance microchips in servers used by Amazon, Apple, report says

China inserted surveillance microchips in servers used by Amazon, Apple, report says

The goal of the Chinese spies was reportedly to use these microchips to gain access to sensitive corporate data and other secrets through advanced hacking. Elemental's video-compressing servers were assembled by Californian company Supermicro, which in turn built its motherboards in China. The report says that the chips would connect to certain remote systems to receive instructions and could then do things like modify the running operating system to remove password validation, thereby opening a machine up to remote attackers.

According to the report, the tiny chips were implanted in server motherboards purchased from Super Micro Computer, a publicly-traded San Jose company that was described as the "Microsoft of the hardware world".

Amazon subsidiary Amazon Web Services, which provides on-demand cloud computing platforms, was described in the Bloomberg story as having known about the malicious chips and working with the FBI to investigate the matter.

Apple, which Bloomberg reported was also compromised by the microchips, denied this report as well.

In addition to Apple and Amazon, nearly 30 companies were affected by the breach, including a major bank and government contractors. "Apple never had any contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other agency about such an incident", the company said in a statement provided to Bloomberg.

"Supermicro takes all security claims very seriously and makes continuous investments in the security capabilities of their products". "Attacking Supermicro motherboards is like attacking Windows".

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Apple, AWS and Super Micro dispute the report.

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Apple pointed Business Insider to the statement it sent Bloomberg, which said: "Apple has never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server".

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

A report by The Information did claim that the reason Apple and Supermicro severed ties was "a potential security vulnerability in at least one data center server", which may or may not have been the infected driver in question. The Chinese government also indirectly denied the reports findings.

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

Bloomberg, however, says it talked to 17 people who've confirmed the investigation into compromised Supermicro products.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country is a "resolute defender of cybersecurity", and while "supply chain safety in cyberspace is an issue of common concern [.] China is also a victim".

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


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