Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

United Kingdom and U.S. shrug off claims China exported 'spy chip'

Lenovo whose products include virtual reality glasses was among Asian technology companies whose shares fell Lenovo whose products include virtual reality glasses was among Asian technology companies whose shares fellPAU BARRENA AFP GETTY IMAGES
Ginger Lawrence | 09 October, 2018, 16:26

The letter follows statements on Friday by Britain's National Cyber Security Centre and on Saturday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that those agencies have no reason to doubt denials from Apple and Amazon.com Inc that they had discovered backdoored chips.

Apple's press release was equally strong.

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. Those companies denied any knowledge the equipment had been altered.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a statement on the explosive claims made by Bloomberg Newsweek about Apple, Amazon, and other tech giants using compromised Supermicro servers with Chinese spy chips for their cloud services. "Apple's proprietary security tools are continuously scanning for precisely this kind of outbound traffic, as it indicates the existence of malware or other malicious activity", he wrote in his letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters. "Nothing was ever found", he wrote. "Nor have we engaged in an investigation with the government". Super Micro said that it "strongly refutes reports that servers it sold to customers contained malicious microchips in the motherboards of those systems".

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The infiltration of the computer systems, which stemmed from servers assembled by Super Micro Computer Inc., was investigated as part of an Federal Bureau of Investigation counter-intelligence probe, according to national security officials familiar with the matter.

And it's notable what hasn't happened in the four days since Bloomberg published his story. Supermicro also says the story is wrong.

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).

And so far, no one has produced a Supermicro circuit board with a spy chip embedded in it. Bloomberg claimed that almost 30 companies were affected by the attacks, so you might expect someone at at least one of those companies to report finding a modified board-again, as far as we know, this hasn't happened.