Apple told Congress it found no evidence of server tampering

Gladys Abbott
October 9, 2018

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Saturday it now had no reason to doubt statements from companies that have denied a Bloomberg report that their supply chains were compromised by malicious computer chips inserted by Chinese intelligence services.

Apple said in a statement it had "never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server". The law enforcement agency denies that any such incident ever occurred and says it has "no reason to doubt" the statements made by Apple, Amazon, and others.

The Department of Homeland Security is aware of the media reports of a technology supply chain compromise.

A detailed analysis of the Bloomberg report on technology site The Register noted both Apple and Amazon "would want to keep any highly confidential information and contacts with intelligence services as quiet as possible". Both companies as well as their server supplier vehemently denied there was any espionage happening, and Businessweek denies it got the story wrong.

"We tried to figure out if there was anything, anything, that transpired that's even remotely close to this", an unnamed senior Apple security executive told Buzzfeed News. "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.

Apple has also supplied a letter to US Congress at this point, stating that no evidence was found to support claims of tampered motherboards. The US Department of Homeland Security also chimed in, stating that it is in agreement with the United Kingdom on this and has "no reason to doubt the statements" from companies named in the initial story.

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Bloomberg named Super Micro as the source of the servers and Apple and Amazon Web Services (AWS) as having detected hacked hardware.

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.

The Bloomberg story, which cites 17 unnamed sources including three at Apple and four U.S. officials, claimed that the microchips were placed onto motherboards in Chinese factories subsequently assembled into servers by Supermicro.

And it's notable what hasn't happened in the four days since Bloomberg published his story.

DHS is backing them up. This shows just how series the accusations made by Bloomberg in their report are.

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