Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

United Kingdom and USA shrug off claims China exported 'spy chip'

The U.S. and Chinese flags side by side The U.S. and Chinese flags side by side
Laurie Berry | 09 October, 2018, 16:29

(AAPL) and Amazon.com Inc.'s (AMZN) denials that their servers were compromised by Chinese spy chips.

Cyber security agencies in the United Kingdom and USA have played down claims that the China military inserted spy chips into computer hardware before it was exported overseas.

Claims of the attack emerged in Bloomberg Businesweek, which last week reported 17 unidentified intelligence and company sources as saying that Chinese spies had placed computer chips inside equipment used by around 30 companies, as well as multiple United States government agencies.

A detailed analysis of the Bloomberg report on technology site The Register noted both Apple and Amazon "would want to keep any highly confidential information and contacts with intelligence services as quiet as possible".

Now the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the GCHQ arm the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have both joined Amazon, Apple and Supermicro in denying the claims.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a statement on Saturday that says it is aware of the original Bloomberg report that discusses a "technology supply chain compromise".

Manchester United's Jose Mourinho to be investigated for touchline comments vs Newcastle
The 55-year-old will be desperate to achieve this quickly as United's next run of fixtures are incredibly competitive. It's not like when he was at Inter Milan in the Champions League and he could park the bus defensively.

In a statement, the DHS said: "Like our partners in the United Kingdom, the National Cyber Security Centre, at this time we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story".

At the center of the allegations is SuperMicro, a California-based equipment manufacturer who reportedly sold Apple, Amazon, and the US Department of Defense the tampered servers. "Nothing was ever found", he wrote in the letter provided to Reuters.

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.

Bloomberg named Super Micro as the source of the servers and Apple and Amazon Web Services (AWS) as having detected hacked hardware. This chip was said to act as a back door for Chinese spies, allowing data to be covertly stolen. The publication has a reputation for rigor, and lest it get some fact wrong and needlessly tank a whole industry, it generally errs on the side of not going to bat on neggy business stories.

Apple said it's been in contact with Bloomberg's reporters since October 2017, and repeatedly asked them to provide specific details about the alleged malicious chips before the article published. This shows just how series the accusations made by Bloomberg in their report are.

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