Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Economy | By

U.S. and UK Governments Back Denial of Supermicro Story

U.S. and UK Governments Back Denial of Supermicro Story

The report cited 17 anonymous intelligence and company sources claiming Chinese operatives had tampered with a "technology supply chain", managing to place computer chips inside equipment that was shipped to the companies.

On Thursday, Bloomberg Businessweek claimed that tiny spy chips were secretly installed in servers of nearly 30 American companies, including a major bank, government contractors and Apple and Amazon. The statement adds that DHS has no reason "at this time" not to believe the statements from companies like Apple, Amazon and Supermicro denying the existence of the tiny spy chips.

Apple and Amazon both denied the claims.

Apple's Vice President for Information Security George Stathakopoulos wrote a letter to the House and Senate commerce committees that the company's security systems, which monitor for the type of malicious activity purported, had found nothing. In a statement of its own, Amazon said it had found "no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications". But while some of these details may have been wrong, the basic thrust of the story was correct: major tech companies really were participating in a secret NSA spying program called PRISM. "We never alerted the FBI to any security concerns like those described in the article, nor has the FBI ever contacted us about such an investigation".

US government agrees with Apple and Amazon, says their servers were not compromised by China

Apple and Amazon, the largest two companies which were connected to the allegedly affected supplier Super Micro, issued strong denials in response to the report last week.

A Chinese government spokesman has sidestepped questions about a report that its spies inserted chips into computer equipment that might allow them to hack into USA companies and government agencies. The British organization said that it also had "no reason to doubt" the refutations.

The letter follows statements on Friday by Britain's National Cyber Security Centre and on Saturday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that those agencies have no reason to doubt denials from Apple and Amazon.com Inc that they had discovered backdoored chips.

According to Bloomberg's original report, microchips the size of a sharpened pencil tip (see image at the top of this article) were embedded on motherboards built by Taiwan-American firm Supermicro.


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