Monday, 15 October, 2018

USA and UK Governments Back Denial of Supermicro Story

Apple and Amazon Deny Chinese Spy Hack Rumors Wikimedia Commons Florian Hirzinger
Orlando Vargas | 09 October, 2018, 16:25

Apple isn't relenting in its attacks on last week's Bloomberg story claiming that tiny Chinese chips had compromised the security of Apple and Amazon data centers.

"We are aware of the media reports but at this stage have no reason to doubt the detailed assessments made by AWS and Apple", an NCSC statement sent to Reuters explained.

The report by Bloomberg News, which cited unidentified US officials, said the malicious chips were inserted into equipment supplied by Supermicro Computer Inc.to American companies and government agencies. "The NCSC engages confidentially with security researchers and urges anybody with credible intelligence about these reports to contact us". As the Register wrote, Apple and Amazon's denials were unusually firm, and it's possible that government sources overplayed the threat-though the site also found it "inconceivable that [Bloomberg] would publish a story this huge that wasn't watertight". Apple denied the report, and said that Bloomberg is confusing an event that took place in 2016 when the company found an infected driver on a single Super Micro server in one of its labs.

Given that this story is too huge to just sweep under the rug, denials came in swiftly from both Amazon and Apple.

Both Apple and Amazon denied the article's claims on Thursday, writing that the reporting was inaccurate and that they had never been affected by malicious chips.

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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.

While the Bloomberg report is short on technical details, many security experts say that whether or not this attack occurred, or occurred as alleged, it appears at least to have been technically feasible. The chips were said to have allowed secret access to internal networks.

The Bloomberg story, which cites 17 unnamed sources including three at Apple and four United States officials, claimed that the microchips were placed onto motherboards in Chinese factories subsequently assembled into servers by Supermicro.

"It is technically plausible", Jake Williams, a former member of the U.S. National Security Agency's hacking unit who now runs security consultancy Rendition Infosec in Augusta, Georgia, said in a Thursday web conference, the Register reports.

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