On October 4, Bloomberg BusinessWeek published allegations that Chinese spies planted surveillance chips on motherboards of Supermicro servers. Allegedly, these chips were found by Amazon in 2015 as part of due diligence conducted in the acquisition of Elemental Technologies, a video-compression software provider.
According to the article, U.S. investigators determined that the chips were inserted during the manufacturing process in China, by operatives of the People’s Liberation Army, with the objective of stealing sensitive information belonging to U.S. corporations and the U.S. Government. The article goes on to say that Apple also discovered suspicious chips, removed 7,000 Supermicro servers from its data centers and cancelled an additional 30,000 server order.
Ten days later, Fortune published an article on its website entitled “Doubts Swirl Around Bloomberg’s China Chip Hack Report.” Fortune noted a lack of substantiation of the allegations and quoted skepticism among security experts. Still later, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said there was no truth to the story, and Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, said the story was wrong and called for its retraction. Bloomberg, on the other hand, stands by its reporting.
Bottom line for members of ASCDINATD – be wary and vigilant if you deal in Supermicro servers, as this story is still unfolding.