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posted by mrpg on Sunday October 07 2018, @08:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the our-fortune-looks-bleak dept.

Following up on our story from Thursday — Chinese Spy Chips Allegedly Inserted Into Amazon, Apple, etc. Datacenters by Super Micro — there is a report from Ars Technica Bloomberg stands by Chinese chip story as Apple, Amazon ratchet up denials:

On Thursday morning, Bloomberg published a bombshell story claiming that the Chinese government had used tiny microchips to infiltrate the data centers of Apple and Amazon. Apple and Amazon, for their part, responded with unusually specific and categorical denials. It's clear that someone is making a big mistake, but 24 hours later, it's still not clear whether it's Bloomberg or the technology companies.

On Thursday afternoon, Apple laid out its case against the story in a lengthy post on its website. The post specifically disputed a number of Bloomberg's claims. For example, Bloomberg says that after discovering a mysterious chip in one of its servers, Apple "reported the incident to the FBI," leading to an investigation. Apple flatly denies that this occurred.

"No one from Apple ever reached out to the FBI about anything like this," Apple writes. "We have never heard from the FBI about an investigation of this kind."

Amazon's response has been equally emphatic and detailed. "There are so many inaccuracies in ‎this article as it relates to Amazon that they're hard to count," Amazon wrote on Thursday. "We never found modified hardware or malicious chips in servers in any of our data centers."

Yet Bloomberg reporter Jordan Robertson, one of the article's co-authors, has stood by his story. In a Thursday afternoon appearance on Bloomberg TV, Robertson said that he talked to 17 anonymous sources—both in US intelligence agencies and at affected companies—who confirmed the story.

So what's going on? It's clear that someone isn't telling the truth, but it's hard to tell what the real story is.

A comment to that story on Ars noted:

The (alleged) chip is associated with the BMC (baseboard management controller). It has indirect access to everything that the BMC can touch, which is pretty much everything in the system.

See, also, coverage on Hackaday where a comment identifies the particular board in question as being a MicroBlade MBI-6128R-T2. A link to a tweet reveals a picture of the board in question and a followup picture showing where the extra device would be located.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by arslan on Monday October 08 2018, @12:41AM (3 children)

    by arslan (3462) on Monday October 08 2018, @12:41AM (#745740)

    Amazon wrote on Thursday. "We never found modified hardware or malicious chips in servers in any of our data centers. Nor have we engaged in an investigation with the government."

    Another way to read this is, the hardware isn't modified if it was per original spec and isn't malicious if Amazon knew about them from the get go about what it does. They weren't engaged in an investigation with the government, just a collaborative program with full disclosure between then and the government in question.

    I didn't see anything in the Amazon article where they categorically dismissed the fact that the chips allows government access to data without their client's consent just refute of the technical jargon that allows for the outcome.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday October 08 2018, @01:38AM (2 children)

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Monday October 08 2018, @01:38AM (#745763) Journal

    Why are so many users bothering to parse and creatively interpret every word of these statements? Is there going to be an SEC punishment if they were caught lying in these statements? I doubt it.

    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @03:17AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08 2018, @03:17AM (#745788)

      I'm more interested in knowing why news sites like Ars are writing about these weak sauce obfuscation as if they were strong denials.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by arslan on Monday October 08 2018, @04:58AM

      by arslan (3462) on Monday October 08 2018, @04:58AM (#745813)

      Maybe, maybe not. But market perception & sentiment does affect their stock value. If they do get expose later, say via some whistle blowing, then they can technically say they didn't lie. I suppose it does soften or at least alter the impact somewhat vs being caught red-handed in an outright lie.

      These interpretation are also kinda "spread the word" to the potential tactics used by these corporations to those unfamiliar or new to this space. I suppose most folks here are seasoned enough so that it is mostly a captain obvious thing, but never hurts to repeat such sentiments.