NSA cybersecurity head can't find corroboration for iCloud spy chip report

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 10
The senior advisor for Cybersecurity Strategy to the director of the National Security Agency has advised there is a lack of evidence relating to both of Bloomberg's recent espionage-related stories, and has openly requested for people with knowledge of the situation to provide assistance.




Speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event, NSA Senior Advisor Rob Joyce was put on the spot about the allegations the Chinese government tampered with servers produced by Supermicro, which were allegedly used by Apple, other major tech companies, and various government organizations. Joyce's comments suggest he disbelieves the entirety of the report, through checking via his own sources.

In response to Wall Street Journal reporter Dustin Volz's query on the allegations, Joyce advised "What I can't find are any ties to the claims in the article," adding "We're befuddled." While noting he has considerable access to intelligence, he has yet to find any corroboration on either the initial story's allegations, nor with a second connected story pertaining to a major telecommunications provider in the U.S.

The lack of connected evidence to the events led Joyce to plea to others to bring clarity, asking "If somebody has first-degree knowledge, can hand us a board, and point to somebody in a company that was involved in this as claimed, we want to talk to them."

I just asked @RGB_Lights about the Bloomberg story:

"What I can't find are any ties to the claims in the article ... If somebody has first-degree knowledge, can hand us a board, can point to somebody in a company that was involved in this as claimed, we want to talk to them."

-- Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)


Reporting on the same meeting, Politico's Eric Geller quotes Joyce stating "I have a pretty good understanding about what we're worried about and what we're working on from my position. I don't see it. There's not there there yet. I have grave concerns about where this has taken us. I worry that we're chasing shadows right now."

Joyce then admits he has no confidence that there's something to the story. "I worry about the distraction that it is causing."

The comments are not the first to be made by members of the security community connected to a government agency. The UK's National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, put out a similar plea for people with "credible intelligence" about the report to make contact, commenting "at this stage we have no reason to doubt the detailed assessments made by AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Apple."

Both companies issued strong denials to the story shortly after its publication, with Apple characterizing it as "wrong and misinformed." Apple has also performed a "massive, granular, and siloed investigation" into the claims, but did not discover any evidence of hardware tampering, nor any unrelated incidents that could have contributed to the report's claims.

The Department of Homeland Security also issued a statement on Saturday, again siding with Apple and Amazon, but without delving into detail as to why it doesn't believe the Bloomberg report.

One of the few named sources in the original report, security researcher Joe Fitzpatrick, has revealed his own doubts about the report, including dealings with one of its authors. Fitzpatrick advised he had previously spoken to the reporter about proof-of-concept devices demonstrated at Black Hat 2016, but found it strange that the ideas he mentioned were confirmed by other sources of the publication.

A number of U.S. officials contacted by one report advised they were uncertain about its accuracy, with one official changing their mind from their initial assertion the "thrust of the article" was true.

Two U.S. senators have written to Supermicro demanding answers over the reports, issuing questions for response by October 17. The questions, asked by Senators Marco Rubio and Richard Blumenthal, query when Supermicro became aware of the malicious hardware reports, if it had investigated the supply chain, and if the Chinese government ever requested access to confidential security information, among other areas.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,170member
    Heh.

    This will be the last time the NSA comes out on Apple's side.
    mac_doghubbax
  • Reply 2 of 23
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,389member
    It’s sad that a significant number of people no longer trust their government to be truthful. Add to that the conspiracy theory mentality and this issue will live on in the multi-verse forever. No matter how much evidence is presented to refute the Bloomberg allegations, even if Bloomberg retracts or edits its story, those who believe nothing is as it seems will keep this story alive. AI keeps posting stories that refute Bloomberg but it doesn’t matter. In those kinds minds it’s true and nothing will change the narrative because it’s what they want to believe... so they believe it. The snake oil salesmen know it all too well. Look at the ads for supplements that start out with, “What your doctor doesn't want you to know."
    edited October 10 mwhiteradarthekatbb-15
  • Reply 3 of 23
    lkrupp said:
    It’s sad that a significant number of people no longer trust their government to be truthful. Add to that the conspiracy theory mentality and this issue will live on in the multi-verse forever. No matter how much evidence is presented to refute the Bloomberg allegations, even if Bloomberg retracts or edits its story, those who believe nothing is as it seems will keep this story alive. AI keeps posting stories that refute Bloomberg but it doesn’t matter. In those kinds minds it’s true and nothing will change the narrative because it’s what they want to believe... so they believe it. The snake oil salesmen know it all too well. Look at the ads that start out with, “What your doctor doesn't want you to know."
    FUD marches on, my man...these people ain’t got time for truth, they have an agenda to stick to. 
    radarthekatbb-15
  • Reply 4 of 23
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,170member
    lkrupp said:
    It’s sad that a significant number of people no longer trust their government to be truthful. Add to that the conspiracy theory mentality and this issue will live on in the multi-verse forever. No matter how much evidence is presented to refute the Bloomberg allegations, even if Bloomberg retracts or edits its story, those who believe nothing is as it seems will keep this story alive. AI keeps posting stories that refute Bloomberg but it doesn’t matter. In those kinds minds it’s true and nothing will change the narrative because it’s what they want to believe... so they believe it. The snake oil salesmen know it all too well. Look at the ads for supplements that start out with, “What your doctor doesn't want you to know."
    Very true, unfortunately. 

    radarthekat
  • Reply 5 of 23
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,679member
    Bloomberg's house of cards is in full collapse. 
  • Reply 6 of 23
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,261member
    Just a another black mark against our fine journalist organizations and educational system we have in this country. I believer there is thread of truth to this story, but the truth is not what the Bloomberg reporters think it is. When you deal with Technology I do not think your average person who goes to journalist school and work in this field not equip to sniff out the BS in the story. To make the whole story true as they wrote it requires a huge leap of faith, technical abilities and stupidity on lots of people parts to pull this off.


    These kinds of stores are either it happened or it did not, it is not reporting on someone opinions, views or analysis of the world order, and they can not get simple facts correct do you think they get more subjective topics correct. This is why today my mantra of "believe nothing of what your are told, half or what your read and see, and all of what you personally experience" has lots of value to the general public consuming news.
    edited October 10 gilly017radarthekat
  • Reply 7 of 23
    These journalists lack any kind of discretion and integrity. Clicks and ‘air’ time is all they seem to be interested in now. And they wonder why certain parties accuse them of being untrustworthy. 
  • Reply 8 of 23
    dewme said:
    Bloomberg's house of cards is in full collapse. 
    Let’s hope so. Tired of these jokers aka the media spouting gloom and doom when it comes to Apple in particular and the USA in general. 
  • Reply 9 of 23
    journalists still trying to feel important, is all - desperate for more ratings. welcome to commercial news
  • Reply 10 of 23
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 580member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Heh.

    This will be the last time the NSA comes out on Apple's side.
    Two things:
    1) big financial houses are still pissed off at Steve Jobs for not allowing them preferential access to purchase and broker Apple stocks in bulk (pre-IPO) and therefore, unable to manipulate the company in the way they see fit. I believe this is the origin of all (or most of) the Apple hate;

    2) don’t kid yourself, the NSA is not, in fact, coming to the aid of Apple. They are simply covering their own asses. 
    dewme
  • Reply 11 of 23
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,679member
    gilly017 said:
    dewme said:
    Bloomberg's house of cards is in full collapse. 
    Let’s hope so. Tired of these jokers aka the media spouting gloom and doom when it comes to Apple in particular and the USA in general. 
    Just on this story. I have no problem with Bloomberg in general. Like most media outlets they serve a vital role in presenting stories for the public to consume. The public is still, and always has been, responsible for applying critical thinking to everything they consume. As long as we, the general public and not someone else in a position of authority, are the ones who decide how we interpret and process information from a wide variety of sources, there is no problem. I'm comfortable with my interpretation process and transformation of data --> information --> intelligence residing with me. Bloomberg and every other media outlet makes mistakes and reaches faulty conclusions on occasion. There is a confluence of data and information out there now that seems to indicate that Bloomberg has reached the wrong conclusion in this case. However, every reasonable person who is questioning Bloomberg's conclusion, like the NSA chief and many AI commenters, have also stated that if Bloomberg is able to produce physical evidence to back up their claims then their seemingly collapsing house of cards may be more solid than we assumed based on the lack of evidence. If Bloomberg doesn't provide physical evidence the only logical conclusion is that they are wrong. 
  • Reply 12 of 23
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 192member

    Bloomberg is just another news outfit trying to make a living for itself.  We all need to eat you know.

    If you really want to assign blame then look no further than Tim Berners-Lee.  The internet brought us all together: you, me, the crazies, the sycophants, the liars, the cheats, the paranoid schizophrenics, and some clear eyed rational people here and there too.  We’re all together, yet siloed into geographically dispersed groups of people who share our own belief systems.  So we end up with a cacophony of groups and people who are absolutely 100% sure they are right and everyone else is wrong because, well, their friends in their own siloed universe told them so.

    PickUrPoisonradarthekatdewmebb-15
  • Reply 13 of 23
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,748member
    lkrupp said:
    It’s sad that a significant number of people no longer trust their government to be truthful. Add to that the conspiracy theory mentality and this issue will live on in the multi-verse forever. No matter how much evidence is presented to refute the Bloomberg allegations, even if Bloomberg retracts or edits its story, those who believe nothing is as it seems will keep this story alive. AI keeps posting stories that refute Bloomberg but it doesn’t matter. In those kinds minds it’s true and nothing will change the narrative because it’s what they want to believe... so they believe it. The snake oil salesmen know it all too well. Look at the ads for supplements that start out with, “What your doctor doesn't want you to know."
    Will President Trump add Bloomberg to the list of fake news media? 
  • Reply 14 of 23
    JWSC said:

    Bloomberg is just another news outfit trying to make a living for itself.  We all need to eat you know.

    If you really want to assign blame then look no further than Tim Berners-Lee.  The internet brought us all together: you, me, the crazies, the sycophants, the liars, the cheats, the paranoid schizophrenics, and some clear eyed rational people here and there too.  We’re all together, yet siloed into geographically dispersed groups of people who share our own belief systems.  So we end up with a cacophony of groups and people who are absolutely 100% sure they are right and everyone else is wrong because, well, their friends in their own siloed universe told them so.

    Yet you use the very invention you dislike...?

    I want to see the proof that Bloomberg has vetted by independant experts and then have the results published. Only then will be know one way or the other.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 23
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,568moderator
    Journalism seems to be going through its own bubble, like the dotcom era prior to April 2000 or the housing market euphoria prior to October 2008.  Everyone is making as much hay as they seem to be allowed, it’s a free-for-all, with some rational agents calling out the chaos but impotent to stop it.  It will be just as ugly in the end this time as it was for the  financial world those past two times.  Only in those instances it was a mere shuffling of money from some pockets to others, with a loss of trust and innocence in our financial institutions and our ability to direct the economy.  This time will be a loss to all of society, of our integrity and morals.  Like the financial crises, this one too will imprint itself on a new generation, and the world may not soon revert to the one we all once thought we knew.  
    edited October 10 bb-15
  • Reply 16 of 23
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,261member
    dewme said:
    gilly017 said:
    dewme said:
    Bloomberg's house of cards is in full collapse. 
    Let’s hope so. Tired of these jokers aka the media spouting gloom and doom when it comes to Apple in particular and the USA in general. 
    Just on this story. I have no problem with Bloomberg in general. Like most media outlets they serve a vital role in presenting stories for the public to consume. The public is still, and always has been, responsible for applying critical thinking to everything they consume. As long as we, the general public and not someone else in a position of authority, are the ones who decide how we interpret and process information from a wide variety of sources, there is no problem. I'm comfortable with my interpretation process and transformation of data --> information --> intelligence residing with me. Bloomberg and every other media outlet makes mistakes and reaches faulty conclusions on occasion. There is a confluence of data and information out there now that seems to indicate that Bloomberg has reached the wrong conclusion in this case. However, every reasonable person who is questioning Bloomberg's conclusion, like the NSA chief and many AI commenters, have also stated that if Bloomberg is able to produce physical evidence to back up their claims then their seemingly collapsing house of cards may be more solid than we assumed based on the lack of evidence. If Bloomberg doesn't provide physical evidence the only logical conclusion is that they are wrong. 
    Yes everyone should look at what they read with a critical eye, but this assumes what is written is accurate to begin with. You can not have 10 people read a fact base article and come way with 10 different interruption. You are seeing it here everyone has their own slant on a article which should be supported by facts. 

    If this really happen and Bloomberg wants to claim they worked this for a year, did they every see the chip itself, why didn't they include pictures of the actual device. If there were 30,000 compromised computers you think someone would have gotten their hands on one. It is like saying Supermicro murdered someone and they can not produce the weapon or the body and can not even identify who the person that was murdered. However they have a number of anonymous sources who claim to have seen the murder. 

    That is okay, our fine Senators will get to the bottom of this, they ask Supermicro to provide the all document related to what happen. You know if it never happen and Supermirco and not product document to show it happen the government will conclude there is a cover up.
    edited October 10
  • Reply 17 of 23
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 192member
    Journalism seems to be going through its own bubble, like the dotcom era prior to April 2000 or the housing market euphoria prior to October 2008.  Everyone is making as much hay as they seem to be allowed, it’s a free-for-all, with some rational agents calling out the chaos but impotent to stop it.  It will be just as ugly in the end this time as it was for the  financial world those past two times.  Only in those instances it was a mere shuffling of money from some pockets to others, with a loss of trust and innocence in our financial institutions and our ability to direct the economy.  This time will be a loss to all of society, of our integrity and morals.  Like the financial crises, this one too will imprint itself on a new generation, and the world may not soon revert to the one we all once thought we knew.  

    True, there’s a lot to despair about in the never ending news cycle.  Truth is frequently boring and does not motivate people to read the news.  Bad news, particularly when it’s horrific, tragic, or sensational, grabs eyeballs.  There’s an underlying and often subconscious tendency to paint things worse than they actually are in the headlines.  Politicians use this to rally the troops to their cause du jour.  It’s a great way to get and stay elected as well as increase one’s political power.

    The effect is that it gets many people down and creates the perception that the world is going to Hell in a hand-basket.  This, despite empirical data on almost every front that say otherwise.

    But I believe this malaise will pass as well.  Good journalists already know that verifiable information is the gold standard by which information should be judged.  The younger generation of journalists will be technically knowledgeable about the subject they write about instead of repeating what someone they trust told them.  As evidence I present sites like AppleInsider who, when it comes to tech, know what they’re writing about unlike the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or Bloomberg.

    (No, I’m not a paid shill.)

    radarthekat
  • Reply 18 of 23
    normmnormm Posts: 520member
    tzeshan said:
    lkrupp said:
    It’s sad that a significant number of people no longer trust their government to be truthful. Add to that the conspiracy theory mentality and this issue will live on in the multi-verse forever. No matter how much evidence is presented to refute the Bloomberg allegations, even if Bloomberg retracts or edits its story, those who believe nothing is as it seems will keep this story alive. AI keeps posting stories that refute Bloomberg but it doesn’t matter. In those kinds minds it’s true and nothing will change the narrative because it’s what they want to believe... so they believe it. The snake oil salesmen know it all too well. Look at the ads for supplements that start out with, “What your doctor doesn't want you to know."
    Will President Trump add Bloomberg to the list of fake news media? 
    The Bloomberg report supports the administration's current position, that China is attacking us.
  • Reply 19 of 23
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,912member
    normm said:
    tzeshan said:
    lkrupp said:
    It’s sad that a significant number of people no longer trust their government to be truthful. Add to that the conspiracy theory mentality and this issue will live on in the multi-verse forever. No matter how much evidence is presented to refute the Bloomberg allegations, even if Bloomberg retracts or edits its story, those who believe nothing is as it seems will keep this story alive. AI keeps posting stories that refute Bloomberg but it doesn’t matter. In those kinds minds it’s true and nothing will change the narrative because it’s what they want to believe... so they believe it. The snake oil salesmen know it all too well. Look at the ads for supplements that start out with, “What your doctor doesn't want you to know."
    Will President Trump add Bloomberg to the list of fake news media? 
    The Bloomberg report supports the administration's current position, that China is attacking us.
    Every one in and outside the government knows China constantly attempts to hack us. So do just about every other country in the world. Of course, we are just as guilty as all the rest in trying to hack other countries. That's what the NSA and CIA are chartered to do (maybe not officially but we all know they do). 

    The problem with Bloomberg's reporting is they have probably been caught with their pants down publishing something that might not be accurate. I remember watching the movie, Truth, about CBS News and Dan Rather. The Bloomberg situation could be the same thing.
  • Reply 20 of 23
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,679member
    maestro64 said:
    dewme said:
    gilly017 said:
    dewme said:
    Bloomberg's house of cards is in full collapse. 
    Let’s hope so. Tired of these jokers aka the media spouting gloom and doom when it comes to Apple in particular and the USA in general. 
    Just on this story. I have no problem with Bloomberg in general. Like most media outlets they serve a vital role in presenting stories for the public to consume. The public is still, and always has been, responsible for applying critical thinking to everything they consume. As long as we, the general public and not someone else in a position of authority, are the ones who decide how we interpret and process information from a wide variety of sources, there is no problem. I'm comfortable with my interpretation process and transformation of data --> information --> intelligence residing with me. Bloomberg and every other media outlet makes mistakes and reaches faulty conclusions on occasion. There is a confluence of data and information out there now that seems to indicate that Bloomberg has reached the wrong conclusion in this case. However, every reasonable person who is questioning Bloomberg's conclusion, like the NSA chief and many AI commenters, have also stated that if Bloomberg is able to produce physical evidence to back up their claims then their seemingly collapsing house of cards may be more solid than we assumed based on the lack of evidence. If Bloomberg doesn't provide physical evidence the only logical conclusion is that they are wrong. 
    Yes everyone should look at what they read with a critical eye, but this assumes what is written is accurate to begin with. You can not have 10 people read a fact base article and come way with 10 different interruption. You are seeing it here everyone has their own slant on a article which should be supported by facts. 

    If this really happen and Bloomberg wants to claim they worked this for a year, did they every see the chip itself, why didn't they include pictures of the actual device. If there were 30,000 compromised computers you think someone would have gotten their hands on one. It is like saying Supermicro murdered someone and they can not produce the weapon or the body and can not even identify who the person that was murdered. However they have a number of anonymous sources who claim to have seen the murder. 

    That is okay, our fine Senators will get to the bottom of this, they ask Supermicro to provide the all document related to what happen. You know if it never happen and Supermirco and not product document to show it happen the government will conclude there is a cover up.
    Determining whether something is a "fact based article" requires critical thinking. And yes, every individual is absolutely entitled to their own interpretation of data and information to form their own opinions and conclusions. We don't have to pick sides or be subsumed into an assumed group/classification model that is expected to react as a homogeneous and predictable entity. Part of critical thinking is being open to changing one's mind if additional evidence or compelling reasons arise that warrant reevaluation. Yes, even when cognitive dissonance is tearing at your core belief system, critical thinking will allow you to accept change when there are objective reasons for doing so. I read The Onion all of the time because I enjoy the satire. It's totally fake, by design. Some of it is plain silly. But all intelligent and well-crafted humor contains a grain of truth or exposes some underlying bias that when recognized allows you to laugh at yourself and those around you when they are presented in a humorous way. Nobody likes to be told they are doing something stupid, but framing it in a humorous way makes it easier to digest.

    The necessity for critical thinking has never been as important as it is today. Anyone with a Twitter account can become a self-publisher of their own version of reality. It's no longer just the morning newspaper and the 6 o'clock news, it's a never ending stream of data and information from multiple sources splashing over you from all directions. The human brain normally processes all of these feeds in a listen-think-act manner - except when it is under duress, at which point the "think" part of the process is reduced to a "canned" response that was originally intended to maximize survival. Critical thinking reinstates the "think" step as a priority in the process, but more importantly helps to avoid letting other people, especially those deemed to have authority or influence, from injecting their own "think-replacement" into your brain's natural evaluation process. All it takes is something to prod you into a feeling of duress, yank out the (critical) thinking part, replace it with the authoritarian's/influencer's canned response, and now you're acting under someone else's evaluation process. In this specific case the threat is that Chinese PRC agents are infiltrating hardware servers of major cloud service providers, telecoms, and even the US military's computing resources for nefarious reasons. So rather than evaluating the claims and seeking physical evidence, and letting the evidence lead us to the most logical conclusions, we're getting senate members potentially conflating this into much more and people questioning whether they can trust the own government. The "think" step has obviously been replaced by action, some of which is probably misguided. 

    Again, all Bloomberg needs to do is provide physical evidence to support their claims. Let's focus on getting that and then see where it leads us.   
    gatorguyradarthekat
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