Super Micro Shares Drop 41% After Report Alleging Chinese Hacking

Chinese spying microchips found in Apple, Amazon computers: report

Report: Amazon, And Apple Among Nearly 30 Firms Hit By China Chip Attack

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.

But Apple was also unusually direct in its refutation of Bloomberg's report, which cited 17 sources inside the US government and the affected companies detailing the manipulation of Supermicro's motherboards while they were being manufactured in China.

According to the report, Amazon Web Services uncovered the malicious chips in 2015 when examining servers manufactured by a company known as Elemental Technologies, which AWS eventually acquired. AWS subjected the company to a security audit, which raised flags in the servers that Elemental customers needed to install on their networks to handle the video compression software.

Apple had reportedly bought around 7,000 Super Micro servers when its security teams discovered the chips.

Apple, which Bloomberg reported was also compromised by the microchips, denied this report as well.

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But Apple pointed Business Insider to the statement it sent Bloomberg, which said it has "never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server".

Amazon, Apple and Super Micro have all denied Bloomberg's report.

Beyond an infected driver discovered in 2016 on a single Supermicro server found in Apple Labs, Apple says that such claims are "inaccurate".

China was well placed to carry out this kind of attack, said Bloomberg, because 90% of the world's PCs are made in the country.

However, Bloomberg's sources are adamant. The spies' objective was to be able to gain access to "high-value corporate secrets and sensitive government networks", the report said. The lengthy statement can be found here (published separately from the original report), along with statements from Amazon, Super Micro and China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which are also named in the story. "We stand by our story and are confident in our reporting and sources".

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Amazon responded that "at no time, past or present, have we ever found any issues relating to modified hardware or malicious chips in Super Micro motherboards in any Elemental or Amazon systems".

"While we would cooperate with any government investigation, we are not aware of any investigation regarding this topic nor have we been contacted by any government agency in this regard", Supermicro said in a statement.

Reuters was unable to reach Apple, Amazon or representatives with the FBI, Dept of Homeland Security Agency and National Security Agency for comment. Apple and Amazon, however, both deny working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a top-secret probe.

"In Supermicro, China's spies appear to have found a flawless conduit for what US officials now describe as the most significant supply chain attack known to have been carried out against American companies", Bloomberg wrote.

The U.S. and China are locked in a bitter and escalating trade war, in which hundreds of billions of U.S. and Chinese products are under tariff.

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