"We are deeply disappointed that in [Bloomberg's] dealings with us, Bloomberg's reporters have not been open to the possibility that they or their sources might be wrong or misinformed". Some said that certain allegations were plausible, but that the strong denials from companies cited in the piece left them with doubts about whether the attacks had happened. More than 30 victims are reported, including juggernauts like Amazon's Web Services, and Apple.
The reported manipulation of electronics supply chains to USA companies are certain to sharpen long-standing questions about the crucial but uneasy relationship between the world's two leading economies.
The story reported that malicious chips were planted by a unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, which infiltrated the supply chain of computer hardware maker Super Micro Computer Inc.
It claims that thousands of server motherboards manufactured by Supermicro contained malicious chips, about the size of a grain of rice, that could be used to "access high-value corporate secrets and sensitive government networks".
Super Micro Computer may have been the prime target in a hack allegedly carried out by the Chinese military.
The spying devices, which Bloomberg said have been the subject of a United States government investigation since 2015, were allegedly used for stealing data, gathering intellectual property and trade secrets from American companies. "We are not aware of any investigation by the FBI, nor are our contacts in law enforcement". We did not uncover any unusual vulnerabilities in the servers we purchased from Super Micro when we updated the firmware and software according to our standard procedures.
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"It's untrue that AWS knew about a supply chain compromise, an issue with malicious chips, or hardware modifications when acquiring Elemental", Amazon said in a statement. None of those servers has ever been found to hold malicious chips.
Supermicro reportedly assembled server motherboards for the startup and after forensic examination, it was found that tiny chips embedded in the board were not part of the original design.
"(In the) ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines.
Apple denied the account, saying it had investigated Bloomberg's claims. The outlet said the hacking is "the most significant known supply chain attack ever against USA companies".
Both Apple and Amazon have denied Bloomberg's report; in a statement to CNBC, Apple suggested that the publication had confused "their story with a previously reported 2016 incident in which we discovered an infected driver on a single Super Micro server in one of our labs".
The United States and China are locked in a bitter and escalating trade war, in which hundreds of billions of USA and Chinese products are under tariff.