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The Chinese military successfully added a small microchip to computers manufactured in China and then shipped overseas where they were used at companies, including Amazon and Apple, as well as banks, and defense contractors, according to a report by Bloomberg Businessweek.
A story by Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the United States is in the midst of a secret three-year investigation of the scheme, which it says was uncovered by none other than Amazon.
Consumer data is not believed to have been involved in the security incident. China´s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a written request for comment.
Apple said it had refuted "virtually every aspect" of the story in on-record responses to Bloomberg.
If these spy chip allegations really did happen, why would Apple and Amazon deny it?
In 2015, Amazon.com Inc. began quietly evaluating a startup called Elemental Technologies, a potential acquisition to help with a major expansion of its streaming video service, known today as Amazon Prime Video. Bloomberg, however, says it talked to 17 people who've confirmed the investigation into compromised Supermicro products.
The story cited 17 unnamed sources, including industry insiders and current and former US officials.
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Citing unnamed U.S. officials, Bloomberg said a unit of the People's Liberation Army were involved the operation that placed the chips on equipment manufactured in China for US-based Super Micro Computer Inc.
The operation is thought to have been targeting valuable commercial secrets and government networks, the news agency said.
Amazon, Apple, and Super Micro have all issued statements disputing Bloomberg's reports. "Each time, we have conducted rigorous internal investigations based on their inquiries and each time we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them". They had fallen as low as $8.50 earlier in the session.
But Supermicro, Amazon, and Apple are roundly denying the report. "Apple never had any contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other agency about such an incident", the company said in a statement provided to Bloomberg.
Back in 2015, Amazon took such a liking to Elemental for its software-defined video solutions, that Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced on September 3, 2015, its intention to acquire Elemental.
The Bloomberg Businessweek investigation found that Chinese operatives managed to insert microchips, no bigger than a grain of rice, into hardware supplied to U.S. firm Supermicro, described as one of the world's biggest sellers of server motherboards. Amazon reported the matter to U.
"(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 said in a statement, "On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server".