United Kingdom cyber security agency backs Apple, Amazon China hack denials

Daniel Fowler
October 9, 2018

Apple, Amazon, and SuperMicro have denied Bloomberg's claims that their servers were infiltrated by Chinese agents who inserted microchips into their equipment.

All that said, it also seems plausible that Businessweek's sources (the people working for the respective companies and government divisions at the time the story was reported) have no fucking idea what they are talking about (security authorities are divided on whether this hack would work, why anyone would even do it this way, and whether Businessweek is fully, accurately describing it).

Bloomberg's story, published last Thursday, claimed that the Chinese government had secretly added spy chips to the motherboards of servers sold by Supermicro. Each time, we have conducted rigorous internal investigations based on their inquiries and each time we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them. "You should know that Bloomberg provided us with no evidence to substantiate their claims and our internal investigations concluded their claims were simply wrong". "Apple has never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server".

When the story broke last week, though, the USA intelligence agencies were quiet, but the Department of Homeland Security stepped in over the weekend to say that although the agency is aware of Bloomberg's report, it has "no reason to doubt" the statements made by the two companies.

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Stathakopoulos said that it has never found any of the vulnerabilities mentioned in the article, or been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a result of such concerns. As a result, they're warning organizations to ensure they have the right defenses in place, as Apple says it does.

The UK's GCHQ said in a statement to Reuters over the weekend that it is "aware of the media reports" but has "no reason to doubt the detailed assessments made by AWS and Apple" at this stage.

According to Reuters, Apple's recently retired chief counsel Bruce Sewell said that after he had learned of Bloomberg's investigation previous year, he had been reassured by the FBI's then-general counsel James Baker there was no substance to the report. "He said, 'I've never heard of this, but give me 24 hours to make sure.' He called me back 24 hours later and said 'Nobody here knows what this story is about'". "Nothing was ever found", Apple wrote in its letter to Congress.

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