Bloomberg cited 17 unidentified sources from intelligence agencies and business to support claims that Chinese spies had placed computer chips inside equipment used by about 30 companies and multiple U.S. government agencies, which would give Beijing secret access to internal networks.
However the denials have been strong from Apple and Amazon. “There is no truth” to claims in the story that Apple found malicious chips in its servers in 2015", Jobs' Mob said in a statement. “This is untrue”, Amazon said in a blog post.
Bloomberg defended its reporting saying that 17 individual sources, including government officials and insiders at the companies, confirmed the manipulation of hardware and other elements of the attacks.
The report said that a unit of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army infiltrated the supply chain of computer hardware maker Super Micro Computer to plant malicious chips that could be used to steal corporate and government secrets.
Super Micro strongly denied that it sold servers to customers contained malicious microchips in the motherboards of those systems. It said it has never found any malicious chips, had not been informed that such chips were found by any customer, and never been contacted by government agencies on the matter.
Bloomberg said that Amazon uncovered the malicious chips in 2015 when examining servers manufactured by a company known as Elemental Technologies which Amazon eventually acquired.
The investigation found that Elemental servers, which were assembled by Super Micro, were tainted with tiny microchips that were not part of their design. Amazon reported the matter to US authorities, who determined that the chips allowed attackers to create “a stealth doorway” into networks using those servers, the story said.
AWS told Bloomberg it had reviewed its records related to the Elemental acquisition and “found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modification”.
Bloomberg said Apple in 2015 found malicious chips in servers it purchased from the hardware maker, citing three unidentified company insiders.