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China used tiny chips on U.S. computers to steal secrets

China used tiny chips on U.S. computers to steal secrets

The purportedly compromised hardware was purchased from California-based Super Micro Computer, with Bloomberg claiming that the chips were developed by a specialized computer hardware attack unit in the People's Liberation Army, thus giving China unfettered backdoor access to data.

Elemental servers assembled by Supermicro are "found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA's drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships", per Bloomberg, and the revelation prompted DoD officials at the time to request a small group of technologists "to think about creating commercial products that could detect hardware implants".

The report claims that six current and former national security officials let slip the details on the investigation and its implications.

A report by The Information did claim that the reason Apple and Supermicro severed ties was "a potential security vulnerability in at least one data center server", which may or may not have been the infected driver in question.

If this report is true, why would Amazon and Apple deny it?

Supermicro's compromised motherboards were built into the servers of the U.S. companies targeted.

Bloomberg, citing multiple sources, said the infiltration was first discovered in 2015 and confirmed by independent investigators before a full investigation was launched my multiple USA government agencies. The implanted chip was discovered back in 2015 by the U.S. intelligence services, however, both tech giants are said to have made discoveries of the chips at a similar time. A follow-up investigation was then conducted, which reportedly remains open to this day.

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Bloomberg quoted Super Micro as saying it was not aware of the issues described in the report.

In unusually robust on the record statements, the two trillion dollar tech companies said they know nothing about Chinese spies planting rice grain-sized microchips in hardware that reached 30 major American companies.

"It's untrue that AWS knew about a supply chain compromise, an issue with malicious chips, or hardware modifications when acquiring Elemental", the company added.

Amazon said in a statement that "it's untrue that AWS knew about a supply chain compromise, an issue with malicious chips, or hardware modifications when acquiring Elemental", the United States video service on whose servers, the report says, Amazon found the microchips. Apple never had any contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other agency about such an incident.

In a statement to Bloomberg Businessweek that was also provided to Fox News, Apple said that Bloomberg's reporting is "inaccurate" and the sources in the story might be "wrong or misinformed".

For its part, Supermicro also said it was unaware of any investigation into its products and said it had not been contacted by "any government agency". Apple and AWS deny these moves involving Super Micro were related to chip worries.

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