Apple and Amazon deny allegations of server tampering by Chinese agents

09 October, 2018, 16:28 | Author: Eric Barnett
  • US government agrees with Apple and Amazon, says their servers were not compromised by China

Apple and Amazon, issued unusually strong statements that deny many aspects of Bloomberg's reporting. 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. In a statement of its own, Amazon said it had found "no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications". Amazon says it is "untrue" that it knew of "servers containing malicious chips or modifications in data centres based in China", or that it "worked with the FBI to investigate or provide data about malicious hardware".

Of course, Apple has issued denials before, seemingly created to split hairs and skirt the actual substance of allegations based on technicalities. Several of them focused on claims in the initial Washington Post story that the NSA had "direct access" to user data.

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.


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". The publication has a reputation for rigor, and lest it get some fact wrong and needlessly tank a whole industry, it generally errs on the side of not going to bat on neggy business stories. That's a narrower denial than the ones Apple and Amazon put out last week, but it still seems to bolster the companies' claims.

Over the weekend, Apple received backup from the Department of Homeland Security, which issued a statement that "we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story". This is what had been alleged in a recent article by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Typically, in the wake of a big story like this, well-sourced reporters at major news organizations scramble to confirm it. "I don't know what to believe, but at the same time it doesn't really matter, because it's possible, and we have to act like it is true to solve the problem". This shows just how series the accusations made by Bloomberg in their report are.

Bloomberg's article included an animated image showing a tiny microchip on a crowded circuit board. A DHS denial certainly adds another twist to this story, though it remains to be seen whether under all the smoke, there was an actual fire.

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