Amazon, And Apple Among Nearly 30 Firms Hit By China Chip Attack

Bloomberg says a unit of the People's Liberation Army were involved the operation in the operation. — File

Bloomberg says a unit of the People's Liberation Army were involved the operation in the operation. — File

Citing three internal sources, Bloomberg said Apple also discovered the malicious chips in motherboards supplied by Supermicro in 2015.

The full statement, which is available here, added that Apple always inspects its servers before they are put into production and if it found anything suspicious, it would have alerted the authorities.

The report comes amid increased concerns that 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. Upon the discovery, Amazon reportedly alerted USA authorities, which sent "a shudder through the intelligence community", Bloomberg wrote. They were found in servers assembled by a Chinese company called Super Micro, and could've been subject to a secret U.S. government investigation that began in 2015.

Super Micro noted that it wasn't aware of "any investigation regarding this topic nor have we been contacted by any government agency in this regard".

California-based Supermicro, one of the world's largest suppliers of motherboards, assembled servers for Elemental, which sent some of the equipment to Ontario, Canada, for the security company to test, the news outlet reported.

The report, published by Bloomberg Businessweek, alleges that groups affiliated with the Chinese government infiltrated factories supplying startup Supericro in order to attach the chips to the motherboards.

According to the report, the issue was discovered in 2015 and Super Micro servers were removed by Apple that year.

Elemental's services, made possible through the manufacturing deal with Supermicro, appears to have been an ideal target for Chinese state-sponsored attackers to conduct covert surveillance. In addition to Apple and Amazon, the servers "could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA's drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships".

Not long after the report hit the internet, both Apple and Amazon vehemently denied the report's findings.

But Supermicro, Amazon, and Apple are roundly denying the report. China's reported goal was to access these data centers and swipe confidential information.

For its part, Supermicro also said it was unaware of any investigation into its products and said it had not been contacted by "any government agency".

"We have repeatedly and consistently offered factual responses, on the record, refuting virtually every aspect of Bloomberg's story relating to Apple". Apple never had any contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other agency about such an incident.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the story a "gratuitous accusation" and said the safety of supply chains was an "issue of common concern".

A source close to the matter said that Amazon Web Services (AWS) scrutinized the firm ahead of the purchase, which "uncovered troubling issues".

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