Apple, Amazon deny they were of victims Chinese hardware attack

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Supermicro, according to Bloomberg, also manufactured equipment for Department of Defense data centres, the CIA's drone operations, and onboard networks of Navy warships. Bloomberg's report cites multiple sources from both companies, as well as national security officials who were informed of the chips' existence.

According to the report, AWS and Apple stopped buying servers from Supermicro in 2016, and soon thereafter Supermicro told investors that it had lost "two major customers". "Apple has never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server", the company said. These motherboards have been used in servers by companies like Amazon and Apple as well by at least 28 other U.S. companies and organisations.

The spying devices, which Bloomberg said have been the subject of a U.S. government investigation since 2015, were allegedly used for stealing data, gathering intellectual property and trade secrets from American companies.

Elemental's services, made possible through the manufacturing deal with Supermicro, appears to have been an ideal target for Chinese state-sponsored attackers to conduct covert surveillance. However, a total of 17 individuals claiming to have deep internal knowledge of both Apple and Amazon claim that the reasoning behind the removal of Supermicro systems was due to the discovery of exceptionally tiny spy chips.

Supermicro rep Perry Hayes wrote: "We remain unaware of any such investigation". The report alleges that operatives masquerading as Super Micro employees or government representatives approached people working at four particular factories to request design changes to the motherboards to include the extra chips.

AWS told Bloomberg it had re-reviewed its records related to the Elemental acquisition and "found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications".

On Wednesday, the USA government warned that a hacking group known as cloudhopper - which cybersecurity firms have linked to the Chinese government - has launched attacks on technology service providers to steal data from their clients. The report has been deemed not accurate by companies named in it as well as by the Chinese government. The report alleges that data center hardware purchased from a Chinese company called Supermicro included Chinese spy chips that put the security of the networks at risk. Apple never had any contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other agency about such an incident. Its statement said: "While we would cooperate with any government investigation, we are not aware of any investigation regarding this topic nor have we been contacted by any government agency in this regard".

Apple denied it had ever found malicious chips.

Meanwhile, Beijing didn't directly address questions about manipulation of Supermicro servers, issuing a statement that read, in part: "Supply chain safety in cyberspace is an issue of common concern, and China is also a victim".

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