Skip to main content

Apple and Amazon deny allegations of server tampering by Chinese agents

Audio player loading…

Apple and Amazon have denied claims their company networks have been compromised by a Chinese hacking operation, following a report by Bloomberg Businessweek (opens in new tab) which claimed China had infiltrated the servers of those and other US companies. 

The report cited 17 anonymous intelligence and company sources claiming that Chinese operatives had tampered with a “technology supply chain”, managing to place computer chips inside equipment that was shipped to 30 companies – which would potentially give China easy access to secure company networks. However, Apple and Amazon have vehemently denied the claims.

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.”

No bite off this apple

Apple’s press release was equally strong. “On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,” it read. “Apple never had any contact with the FBI or any other agency about such an incident. We are not aware of any investigation by the FBI, nor are our contacts in law enforcement.”

A letter sent to both the US Senate and US House by Apple’s Vice President for Information Security George Stathakopoulos – and obtained by Reuters (opens in new tab) – reaffirms the denial. “Apple’s proprietary security tools are continuously scanning for precisely this kind of outbound traffic, as it indicates the existence of malware or other malicious activity. Nothing was ever found,” he wrote.

When the story broke last week, though, the US intelligence agencies were quiet, but the Department of Homeland Security stepped in over the weekend to say that although the agency is aware of Bloomberg’s report, it has “no reason to doubt” the statements made by the two companies.

Bloomberg, however, is sticking to its story, leaving many confused as to who to believe.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Sharmishta Sarkar

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (yes, she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing cameras and lenses, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She also contributes to Digital Camera World and T3, and helps produce two of Future's photography print magazines in Australia.