Early on the morning of October 4, Bloomberg’s Businessweek published a report detailing a concerted effort by Chinese government spies to install data-gathering hardware on server computers sold by China’s SuperMicro to Amazon and Apple, among other US companies. Both Amazon and Apple are now publicly denying these claims.
“As we have previously informed Bloomberg, this is completely untrue,” part of Apple’s public statement reads. “Apple has never found malicious chips in our servers.”
Apple’s response attempts to address nearly every point of Bloomberg’s report citing anonymous sources, directly refuting all of its claims. And, so does Amazon’s response.
Each response appears to be chiefly concerned about the claim in Bloomberg’s report that both companies learned of these Chinese intrusions and reported them to US federal authorities while keeping the issues secret from the public.
While it’s impossible to know who is wrong in this scenario, we do know the implications of such a claim much less such a reality. The Super Micro servers in question in this report have powered some of the most ubiquitous apps and services around the world, like Amazon Web Services cloud hosting and the search function of Apple’s Siri digital assistant.
If true, this means that the Chinese government may well have been harvesting data from two of the world’s largest corporations and service providers since 2014 – all with a microchip ‘the size of a grain of rice,’ as Businessweek puts it.
So, you can clearly see why Apple and Amazon have so directly gotten in front of this report, something either company very rarely does, with statements nearly as long and detailed as the report itself. Regardless of what you think after reading Businessweek’s report and these statements, what’s crystal clear is that this storm is far from over.