February 19, 2019

China avoids questions about Apple, Amazon chip hack report

09 October 2018, 04:28 | Joann Bryant

InstrumentalInstrumental cofounders Anna Shedletsky and Sam Weiss

Instrumental AI

So long as everyone out there, on all sides of this tale, is pretty brazenly lying or neglecting to get or keep their facts straight, we are in a mood to try and unpack whatever larger truth there might be.

"In light of your important leadership roles in Congress, we want to assure you that a recent report in Bloomberg Businessweek alleging the compromise of our servers is not true", read the letter published by Apple Insider.

"In essence, this story seems to pass the sniff test", says Theo Markettos, who is on the security team at Cambridge University's Computer Lab.

The strong denials from companies involved, as well as government agencies, has led to speculation whether the original Bloomberg report was planted or otherwise inaccurate, or if it was quietly covered up in some manner on national security grounds. Either way, admission of guilt here about failing to either detect the hack or proactively tell the public about it would be pretty damaging to the reputations of all the victims.

A Bloomberg spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions sent on Sunday.

Maybe the most important thing to remember here is not the strict truth of what happened, but that the story resonates because - not to be a conspiracy theorist - it is eminently plausible.

Apple has also told the Congress on Sunday that its servers were not compromised in anyway whatsoever. The statement adds that DHS has no reason "at this time" not to believe the statements from companies like Apple, Amazon and Supermicro denying the existence of the tiny spy chips.

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".

Of course, Apple has issued denials before, seemingly created to split hairs and skirt the actual substance of allegations based on technicalities.

In a letter to the chairmen and ranking Democrats on the House and Senate Commerce committees, the Cupertino-based company on Monday disputed a Bloomberg report that Chinese spies used a microchip to infiltrate American computer networks.

The truth might never be settled in this case, and surely we are all spying on each other regardless of whether it's accomplished domestically, internationally, interpersonally, or technologically. As far as we know, that hasn't happened here. Unfortunately, we don't yet know.

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