Apple and Amazon deny allegations of server tampering by Chinese agents

A report published last week by Bloomberg Businessweek claimed that China had infiltrated servers of 30 US companies, including Apple and Amazon. 

The report cited 17 anonymous intelligence and company sources claiming Chinese operatives had tampered with a “technology supply chain”, managing to place computer chips inside equipment that was shipped to the companies. This would give China easy access to secure company networks, however, both tech giants have vehemently denied the allegations.

Amazon Web Services said, “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.”

No bite off this apple

Apple’s press release was equally strong. “On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,” it read. “Apple never had any contact with the FBI or any other agency about such an incident. We are not aware of any investigation by the FBI, nor are our contacts in law enforcement.”

A letter sent to both the US Senate and US House by Apple’s Vice President for Information Security George Stathakopoulos – and obtained by Reuters – reaffirms the denial. “Apple’s proprietary security tools are continuously scanning for precisely this kind of outbound traffic, as it indicates the existence of malware or other malicious activity. Nothing was ever found,” he wrote.

When the story broke last week, though, the US intelligence agencies were quiet, but the Department of Homeland Security stepped in over the weekend to say that although the agency is aware of Bloomberg’s report, it has “no reason to doubt” the statements made by the two companies.

Bloomberg, however, is sticking to its story, leaving many confused as to who to believe.

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