China reportedly carried out a 'hardware hack' on Apple and Amazon

China reportedly carried out a 'hardware hack' on Apple and Amazon

China reportedly carried out a 'hardware hack' on Apple and Amazon

The company later removed all of the Super Micro servers after discovering the chips, Bloomberg reported.

The report has attracted strenuous denials from Amazon, Apple, and Super Micro.

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

This discovery was reportedly forwarded to U.S. authorities as the same servers were being used by the Department of Defense, CIA, and the USA military. At the time, Elemental had contracts with government customers like the Central Intelligence Agency, and according to the report AWS reported the discovery to federal authorities. They were found in servers assembled by a Chinese company called Super Micro, and could've been subject to a secret United States government investigation that began in 2015. Bloomberg also reported that the modified hardware was found in systems operated by Elemental Media, a company Amazon acquired in 2015, which the company also refutes.

Amazon reportedly caught wind of the attack in 2015 during an evaluation of Elemental Technology, a startup it was looking to acquire.

Both Apple and Amazon discovered the surveillance chips in 2015 and took steps to replace the affected servers, according to the report, which described close cooperation between USA investigators and affected companies.

The story cited 17 unnamed sources, including industry insiders and current and former US officials.

Super Micro, a US-based hardware company, is one of the largest server suppliers in the world, accounting for 5.1% of the worldwide server shipments made in Q3 2017. Apple insiders, too, offered information regarding the hardware attack that Apple reportedly fell victim to.

Three "senior insiders" claim that Apple found malicious chips on Supermicro motherboards, also in 2015, and severed its ties with the company the following year. Apple never had any contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other agency about such an incident.

"We remain unaware of any such investigation", a Super Micro representative says in response to the claims. Bloomberg quoted "three senior insiders" as saying they had also discovered the tiny chips, which Bloomberg said were much smaller than a penny and were created to transmit information back to China about the data flowing across the servers.

Supermicro said it was unaware of an investigation, while U.S. investigators, including the FBI, declined to comment.

"We are deeply disappointed that in their dealings with us, Bloomberg's reporters have not been open to the possibility that they or their sources might be wrong or misinformed", Apple said.

As you might expect, Apple has denied the incident.

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

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