Bloomberg reports that tiny Chinese spy chips had been embedded on Super Micro motherboards sold to Apple and Amazon. Apple, Amazon and Super Micro have vehemently denied the report.
According to the piece by Bloomberg, the chips were initially found by Apple and Amazon in 2015 and that the companies reported their findings to the FBI, which led to a probe that remains ongoing.
The report claims that the tiny chips were disguised and resembled other components, while in some cases were squeezed into the fiberglass of the motherboards. The piece goes on to allege that they were connected to the management processor, which allowed them access to the networking and system memory. The report says that the chips would connect to certain remote systems to receive instructions and could then do things like modify the running operating system to remove password validation, thereby opening a machine up to remote attackers.
The boards were all designed by California-based Super Micro and built in Taiwan and China. The report alleges that operatives masquerading as Super Micro employees or government representatives approached people working at four particular factories to request design changes to the motherboards to include the extra chips. Bloomberg further reports that the attack was made by a unit of the People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese military.