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Apple attacks Bloomberg spy-chip story in letter to Congress

08 October 2018

"We are aware of the media reports but at this stage have no reason to doubt the detailed assessments made by AWS and Apple", said the National Cyber Security Center, a unit of Britain's eavesdropping agency, GCHQ.

Apple, Amazon, and SuperMicro have denied Bloomberg's claims that their servers were infiltrated by Chinese agents who inserted microchips into their equipment.

Apple VP for IT security Goerge Stathakopoulos sent letters to both the US House and Senate Commerce Committees, according to a Reuters report. However, Apple, Supermicro, and AWS have denied the allegations, with Apple publishing an unambiguous statement that completely rejects the notion of malicious chips being found in any servers. All three companies denied the claims.

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Stathakopoulos added that if "any of the reported details" were true, Apple would have been upfront about the potential supply-chain attack. Apple is equally definitive, telling Bloomberg: "On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server". Apple originally said that it "conducted rigorous internal investigations based on [Bloomberg's] inquiries and each time we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them". That's a narrower denial than the ones Apple and Amazon put out last week, but it still seems to bolster the companies' claims. "Apple never had any contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other agency about such an incident".

Bloomberg has stuck by its report, insisting on its veracity.

Amazon's denial, issued last Thursday, was also broad and unequivocal.

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The Department of Homeland Security released a statement this weekend supporting Apple and Amazon's denial of an explosive Bloomberg Businessweek report claiming that a Chinese military unit inserted microchips into Super Micro Computer Inc (Supermicro) server motherboards in widespread use at USA companies, saying "at this time we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story".

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".

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Apple attacks Bloomberg spy-chip story in letter to Congress