UK's Cyber Security Agency Supports Apple's Denial That Chinese Spies Infiltrated iCloud Servers

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacRumors, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The United Kingdom's National Cyber Security Centre has backed Apple's and Amazon's denials of a Bloomberg Businessweek report that claimed Chinese spies planted tiny chips the size of a pencil tip on motherboards manufactured by Supermicro, which both Apple and Amazon used at one time in data center servers.


    "We are aware of the media reports but at this stage have no reason to doubt the detailed assessments made by AWS and Apple," the agency, a unit of the GCHQ, said in a statement provided to Reuters today.

    "The NCSC engages confidentially with security researchers and urges anybody with credible intelligence about these reports to contact us," it added.

    Apple was a Supermicro customer for several years, using its servers to power the likes of iCloud, Siri, and the App Store, although it severed ties with the company in 2016 due to a previously-reported and allegedly unrelated incident in which Apple discovered an infected driver on a single server in one of its labs.

    Bloomberg Businessweek yesterday reported that Apple discovered the suspicious microchips around May 2015, after detecting odd network activity and firmware problems. Two senior Apple insiders were cited as saying the company reported the incident to the FBI, but kept details tightly held.

    The insiders cited in the report said in the summer of 2015, a few weeks after Apple identified the malicious chips, the company started removing all Supermicro servers from its data centers. Every one of the 7,000 or so Supermicro servers was replaced in a matter of weeks, according to one of the insiders.

    One government official cited in the Bloomberg Businessweek report said China's goal was "long-term access to high-value corporate secrets and sensitive government networks." No consumer data is known to have been stolen, the report added, but the extent of the alleged attack appears to be unclear.

    Apple denied Bloomberg Businessweek's report in a strongly-worded statement:
    Apple later clarified that it is not under any kind of gag order or other confidentiality obligations after speculation mounted.

    Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

    Article Link: UK's Cyber Security Agency Supports Apple's Denial That Chinese Spies Infiltrated iCloud Servers
  2. Scooz macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2012
    The gag order included having to actively deny it!!!

    (So sad, that you can‘t make actual jokes about these things anymore)
  3. SoGood macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2003
    Good that the Brits have some honesty on this issue. Otherwise as someone posted on Quora, if the Chinese had such capability in miniaturising such feature in a chip of the size suggested, then China truly has America beat on the technology front. In the meantime there's been a mad rush on Taobao at RMB0.70 ie. US$0.15 each.

  4. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    This is ridiculous. These "U.S. Officials" are just downright neanderthals if they think you can just replace any chip. They don't even understand how a motherboard works and the amount of work it would take to rework the traces on the motherboard to accommodate any modifications like this. You'd be crazy not to notice.
  5. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
    But how do all these detailed denials and factual analyses override my moronic conspiracy theory that says everyone is lying except the source who told businessweek the truth? Clearly the first amendment is a sham and the US government is compelling Apple to lie instead of allowing them to merely keep their mouths shut. And certainly these chips have magic superpowers and can do things that lib tard chips can’t do. And certainly the only reason Apple is lying is because they are controlled by a China and don’t worry about the SEC fine when the truth comes out. Oh, wait. That’s two contradictory reasons. Well that just somehow proves my idiotic point.
  6. BeanieMan macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2010
    And some people still wonder why others question the credibility of the press...
  7. iapplelove macrumors 601


    Nov 22, 2011
    East Coast USA
    Apple busted the company in 2016. That we do know.

    It’s hard for me to imagine that was the only time a foreign government in conjunction with a domestic chip manufacturer tried spying on a major company.
  8. usarioclave macrumors 65816

    Sep 26, 2003
    This is a story that could only have been believed by a reporter ie: someone who is smart enough to think they understand how computers work, but not smart enough to understand how computers work.

    Let's put it this way: if you were going to put this magic chip onto a motherboard, what would it be connected to? And how would you hide it? Circuit board design isn't a random tangle of leads wandering around the board. They need to be where they are due to routing and physics. For network access, you need to connect that chip to something that is connected to a network. And power. And a clock. And if it does all of the stuff it says in the article it needs direct lines into the CPU, network card, and possibly the north/southbridge. That means a whole bunch of traces that magically appeared on a motherboard - and nobody noticed.

    Yeah, right. That's complete BS. Even a lights-out manager (LOM), which allows access when the power is out, requires a whole lot of connections. Noticeable connections. You can't really hide this kind of stuff.
  9. Edsel macrumors 6502

    Mar 18, 2010
    Over There
    However, the design process has many opportunities for injecting security modifications. I think this is how the "hack" worked. The public visuals as shown in this story is only a comparitive illustration for non-technical readers.
  10. jjhny macrumors regular


    Sep 16, 2005
    We run a server. Incredible amount of hack attempts logged. Mostly always from China. Probably the biggest cyber threat in the world.

    I'm still trying to figure how I can block any IP from China pre-emptively.
  11. orev macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2015
    I'm left wondering how a story like this got published at all. It's so far off it makes me wonder if there is some ulterior motive here. Something to do with the China trade war? Some company paid Bloomberg to smear SuperMicro? It's so far off the rails I can't imagine any reporter couldn't figure that out as soon as they asked anyone else about the story.
  12. verpeiler, Oct 5, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018

    verpeiler macrumors 6502a


    May 11, 2013
    Munich, Germany
    "The press", as if only one paper would exist.. You know how to differentiate, do you?
    We (fortunately) don't live in "Trump world" (I guess that's what you're referring to) where everyone is lying except him. It's rather the opposite.

    Maybe Bloomberg got fooled by some guy who wanted his 5 minutes of fame, who knows.. but don't generalize so much.
  13. kodos macrumors 6502

    May 1, 2010
    It is interesting, there have been a tremendous number of attacks on services I help maintain as a software developer. All from China. Escalating in the past year more than I have ever seen before. And most of my clients aren't big names - they are middle of the tier companies. Some are small businesses with less than a $1 million in revenue in a year.
  14. orev macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2015
    Actually many chips on the board communicate using a standard bus system (I2C / SMBUS), so you could in theory attach anywhere on the bus to tap into it. There are reasons this story is implausible, but this isn't one of them.
  15. profets macrumors 601

    Mar 18, 2009
    These incredibly tiny micro chips were essentially computers themselves. Geez. I guess not impossible for that to be true, but hard to imagine that being the case.
  16. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
    That part isn’t hard to believe. The rest of it is.
  17. udayan81 macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2017
    I don't think any public company will blandly admit to an article. That would not be in the best interest of their stock prices. Until somebody gives proven evidence they will simply deny.
  18. WatchFromAfar Suspended


    Jan 26, 2017
    Let's not mess about. Apple wants to be China. That means storing iCloud data in China. Turns out China doesn't give a crap about Apple.
  19. DipDog3 macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2002
    The article is mostly right, but someone made it look like China is doing the spying when in reality it is someone else.

    Who do we know that has a history of installing spy chips on computers?
    Hint: Snowden told us.
  20. djcerla macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2015
    Supermicro will sue Bloomberg literally out of existance, Hulk Hogan style.
  21. betterbegood macrumors regular


    May 21, 2014
    San Lonkong
    That is some Kavanaugh-like Apple propaganda right there.
    If you actually cared about your own, your family and your countrymen security you should hold Apple in an arms length and let a third party do a forensic research.

    You do not fathom the consequences if ANY of what Bloomberg has reported is true. Apple is a private company and should not get a free pass just because you owe a few of their products.
  22. profets macrumors 601

    Mar 18, 2009
    It’s also not in their interest to blatantly lie as a public company. If evidence surfaces to show they were lying, I imagine the ramifications could be quite bad.
  23. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
    Funny how this thread turned exactly into what I predicted would happen in my post near the top.
  24. mmomega macrumors 68030


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX

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