The Chinese government infiltrated Apple and Amazon servers with a tiny microchip

China used tiny microchips to gain access to US companies, banks, government contractors: report

Apple, Amazon Deny China Installed Tiny Spy Microchips On Their Servers, But We're Still Freaked Out

The Bloomberg Businessweek investigation found that Chinese operatives managed to insert microchips, no bigger than a grain of rice, into hardware supplied to USA firm Supermicro, described as one of the world's biggest sellers of server motherboards.

A CHINESE SUPPLY CHAIN ATTACK infiltrated servers used by almost 30 companies, including Apple, Amazon and U.S. government contractors, according to a blockbuster report from Bloomberg Businessweek.

AWS did not immediately respond to follow-up requests for comment by CNBC.

Needless to say, all involved, including Beijing, deny the allegations, cry wolf, and say the facts are either misrepresented or non-existent, but the fallout is yet to be felt completely.

Amazon reportedly spotted the microchips while doing the due diligence for its $US500 million acquisition of the U.S. video service firm Elemental in 2015. "Over the course of the past year, Bloomberg has contacted us multiple times with claims.of an alleged security incident at Apple", the company said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.

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". One US official who said Thursday morning that the thrust of the article was true later expressed uncertainty about that conclusion.

The Chinese government has also denied the report.

Bloomberg said the retail-to-cloud computing company alerted USA authorities at the time, resulting in an inquiry and a string of firms cancelling Super Micro orders.

The chips were reportedly developed by a specialised computer hardware attack unit in the People's Liberation Army, and gave hackers unfettered access to anything the server did, allowing them to potentially manipulate the server to steal data, contact other servers and alter operations.

Super Micro Computer may have been the prime target in a hack allegedly carried out by the Chinese military. The company later removed all of the Super Micro servers after discovering the chips, Bloomberg reported. It said it had reviewed documents surrounding the acquisition of Elemental and the third-party security audit that Bloomberg reported led to the discovery of the chips, and "we've found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications".

Nested on the servers' motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn't part of the boards' original design.

Chinese spies attempted to plant tiny microchips in the data centres of 30 major American companies, including Amazon and Apple, according to a Bloomberg investigation.

Apple denied the account, saying it had investigated the claims. The FBI declined to comment for the story.

However, in a statement provided to Bloomberg, AWS disputed that it was aware of any such chips and that it had worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the matter.

"Extended, complex, global supply chains create a risk for malicious cyber activity that companies must take into account", said Michael Daniel, chief executive of the non-profit Cyber Threat Alliance.

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