Amazon, Super Micro executives join Apple's call to retract Bloomberg spy chip story

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2018
Executives from Amazon and Super Micro on Monday joined Apple CEO Tim Cook in calling for the retraction of a Bloomberg Businessweek story claiming the companies were impacted by a Chinese spy operation.


Graphic illustrating size of supposed Chinese spy chip allegedly embedded in Apple servers.
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek


In rare form, Cook in an interview last week slammed Bloomberg for an investigation claiming some 30 companies, including Apple and Amazon, were victims of a complex hardware hack involving spy chips embedded onto network architecture supplied by Super Micro.

"There is no truth in their story about Apple," Cook said in an interview with BuzzFeed News last week. "They need to do that right thing and retract it."

Citing information from 17 separate sources, Bloomberg claims Chinese operatives managed to sneak a microchip smaller than a grain of rice onto motherboards that ended up in Apple and Amazon server farms. Allegedly designed by the Chinese military, the chip acted as a "stealth doorway onto any network" and offered "long-term stealth access" to attached computer systems.

Apple immediately refuted details of the report and ultimately issued a strongly worded statement denying the allegations. The company said a wide-reaching investigation into Bloomberg's claims revealed no evidence of the described hardware tampering.

Cook said much the same last week.

"I was involved in our response to this story from the beginning. I personally talked to the Bloomberg reporters along with Bruce Sewell who was then our general counsel," Cook said. "We were very clear with them that this did not happen, and answered all their questions. Each time they brought this up to us, the story changed and each time we investigated we found nothing."

Following Cook's lead, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy tweeted a brief statement on the matter.

"[Cook] is right. Bloomberg story is wrong about Amazon, too," he said. "They offered no proof, story kept changing, and showed no interest in our answers unless we could validate their theories. Reporters got played or took liberties. Bloomberg should retract."

Super Micro CEO Charles Liang, whose motherboards are at the center of the kerfuffle, echoed that sentiment in a statement to CNBC's Steve Kopack.

"Bloomberg's recent story has created unwarranted confusion and concern for our customers, and has caused our customers, and us, harm," Liang said. "Bloomberg should act responsibly and retract its unsupported allegations that malicious hardware components were implanted on our motherboards during the manufacturing process."

Liang notes the story suggests a large number of motherboards were affected by the breach, though Bloomberg failed to produce hard evidence of the hack. Indeed, security researcher Joe Fitzpatrick, one of the article's lone named sources, said the publication was unable to provide a single photograph of the chip in question.

Super Micro on Monday said it will continue to investigate the allegations by conducting a "complicated and time-consuming review" of its supply chain.

For its part, Bloomberg stands by its reporting. In a statement to AppleInsider earlier this month the publication said its "reporters and editors thoroughly vet every story before publication, and this was no exception."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    TomETomE Posts: 134member
    Bloomberg need to retract their Vaporware or prove it.  I have already stopped reading any of their news (fake or not).
    magman1979chasmApple Exposedjbdragonrepressthiswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 22
    I agree.  Show me a picture Bloomberg.

    A picture wouldn’t compromise a confidential source.  If this story by Bloomberg wasn’t complete B.S.  they’d have dozens.

    Bloomberg is embarrassing themselves, come clean with the oops.  This isn’t going to go away.  They’ve done material harm to Super Micro.

    Bloomberg is going to be sued, and rightly so.
    magman1979chasmApple Exposedjbdragonracerhomie3repressthisradarthekatwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 22
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,431member
    I don’t see anything influencing Bloomberg into publishing tangible evidence until this impacts their bottom line.  If they stick to their guns, we could see some changes to libel laws or SEC & FTC access to confidential sources and data.
  • Reply 4 of 22
    I don’t see anything influencing Bloomberg into publishing tangible evidence until this impacts their bottom line.  If they stick to their guns, we could see some changes to libel laws or SEC & FTC access to confidential sources and data.
    News agencies are often seduced into reporting rumors.  Bloomberg is usually better than this.

    Damages are easily quantified in the stock price plunge.  We’re talking about 100s of millions.  I don’t see how Bloomberg can “stick to there guns”.  This was supposedly a year long investigation by them that ended in a bombshell report.  They must have planned follow up articles.  The fact we’re getting crickets is damning.  I assume what we’re seeing is already covered by libel laws, but they’re generally ignored when it’s about companies.  A complete retraction seems logical and would probably be good enough for everyone but Super Micro.  

    Bloomberg is probably also looking at a fine by the agencies.  They generally give slaps on wrists...
    christophbchasmApple Exposedigohmmmrepressthisradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,431member
    I don’t see anything influencing Bloomberg into publishing tangible evidence until this impacts their bottom line.  If they stick to their guns, we could see some changes to libel laws or SEC & FTC access to confidential sources and data.
    News agencies are often seduced into reporting rumors.  Bloomberg is usually better than this.

    Damages are easily quantified in the stock price plunge.  We’re talking about 100s of millions.  I don’t see how Bloomberg can “stick to there guns”.  This was supposedly a year long investigation by them that ended in a bombshell report.  They must have planned follow up articles.  The fact we’re getting crickets is damning.  I assume what we’re seeing is already covered by libel laws, but they’re generally ignored when it’s about companies.  A complete retraction seems logical and would probably be good enough for everyone but Super Micro.  

    Bloomberg is probably also looking at a fine by the agencies.  They generally give slaps on wrists...
    I hope this doesn’t come to new laws with government involvement in a free press.  I hope the free market is enough to change the trajectory that Bloomberg (and others) have chosen.
    chasmjbdragon
  • Reply 6 of 22
    I don’t see anything influencing Bloomberg into publishing tangible evidence until this impacts their bottom line.  If they stick to their guns, we could see some changes to libel laws or SEC & FTC access to confidential sources and data.
    News agencies are often seduced into reporting rumors.  Bloomberg is usually better than this.

    Damages are easily quantified in the stock price plunge.  We’re talking about 100s of millions.  I don’t see how Bloomberg can “stick to there guns”.  This was supposedly a year long investigation by them that ended in a bombshell report.  They must have planned follow up articles.  The fact we’re getting crickets is damning.  I assume what we’re seeing is already covered by libel laws, but they’re generally ignored when it’s about companies.  A complete retraction seems logical and would probably be good enough for everyone but Super Micro.  

    Bloomberg is probably also looking at a fine by the agencies.  They generally give slaps on wrists...
    At some point, they’ll add a footnote to the (false) story saying that people have questioned its veracity but they stand by the story, and that’ll be that.

    Not expecting much else to come out of it.
  • Reply 7 of 22
    I wonder if it wasn’t another Clapper and Brennan psy-op designed to cause harm to Chinese trade negotiations and harm Trump administration. Bloomberg reporters said most substantial info came from Obama Admin Sources in an interview I saw!
  • Reply 8 of 22
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,847member
     The federal agency that regulates media should act now. 
    magman1979
  • Reply 9 of 22
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,431member
    tzeshan said:
     The federal agency that regulates media should act now. 
    Hahah!  I’m picking up the saracasm....   I do think Bloomberg is in danger of affecting the landscape.   Freedoms of the press, like speech, were intended for political speech directed at government to prevent tyranny.   I hope Apple, Amazon, others don’t let this story go.  
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 22
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,517member
    For its part, Bloomberg stands by its reporting. In a statement to AppleInsider earlier this month the publication said its "reporters and editors 
    thoroughly vet every story before publication, and this was no exception."

    Just to be clear: is Bloomberg responding each week to the allegations of making stuff up, or are you referring to the same single response they gave when the story first hit the skids?

    If it's the latter then Bloomberg isn't really standing by its statement. I probably would have said, in this case, that for its part, Bloomberg is staying silent.



    chasmhubbaxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    Apple needs to file a defamation suit against Bloomberg. This was a deliberate and willful attack on Apple.
    Apple Exposedmagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,517member
    Apple needs to file a defamation suit against Bloomberg. This was a deliberate and willful attack on Apple.

    Or was it just really really poor journalism that should see folk fired for incompetence?

    Interesting point though: Amazon states that Bloomberg was trying the same tactic with them. Approaching them with a different story each time, hoping that the fishing expedition would land them something. 

    I think they started off with a rumour and tried to build it into a story. After a year, they realised that they wasted a lot of money and so decided to chance their arm, hoping that by going to press with nothing but in-house diagrams and conjecture, something might shake free.
    edited October 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    normmnormm Posts: 531member
    glfrost said:
    I wonder if it wasn’t another Clapper and Brennan psy-op designed to cause harm to Chinese trade negotiations and harm Trump administration. Bloomberg reporters said most substantial info came from Obama Admin Sources in an interview I saw!
    I'd like to see this interview -- where can I find it?   It seems much more consistent that the Trump administration would want to sow distrust of Chinese tech, since they have repeatedly voiced a zero-sum view of economics: for the US to succeed, China must fail.
    hubbaxradarthekatroundaboutnow
  • Reply 14 of 22
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,517member
    glfrost said:
    I wonder if it wasn’t another Clapper and Brennan psy-op designed to cause harm to Chinese trade negotiations and harm Trump administration. Bloomberg reporters said most substantial info came from Obama Admin Sources in an interview I saw!
    Got a link for that?
    williamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 22
    Fake news issue is spread throughout all media not just the weird one. Desire to get people attention for any price will lead as to hell.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 22
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,402member
    I don’t see anything influencing Bloomberg into publishing tangible evidence until this impacts their bottom line.  If they stick to their guns, we could see some changes to libel laws or SEC & FTC access to confidential sources and data.
    News agencies are often seduced into reporting rumors.  Bloomberg is usually better than this.

    Damages are easily quantified in the stock price plunge.  We’re talking about 100s of millions.  I don’t see how Bloomberg can “stick to there guns”.  This was supposedly a year long investigation by them that ended in a bombshell report.  They must have planned follow up articles.  The fact we’re getting crickets is damning.  I assume what we’re seeing is already covered by libel laws, but they’re generally ignored when it’s about companies.  A complete retraction seems logical and would probably be good enough for everyone but Super Micro.  

    Bloomberg is probably also looking at a fine by the agencies.  They generally give slaps on wrists...
    At some point, they’ll add a footnote to the (false) story saying that people have questioned its veracity but they stand by the story, and that’ll be that.

    Not expecting much else to come out of it.
    They did that in the original article -- not a footnote.  to quote:

    "In emailed statements, Amazon (which announced its acquisition of Elemental in September 2015), Apple, and Supermicro disputed summaries of Bloomberg Businessweek’s reporting. “It’s untrue that AWS knew about a supply chain compromise, an issue with malicious chips, or hardware modifications when acquiring Elemental,” Amazon wrote. “On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,” Apple wrote. “We remain unaware of any such investigation,” wrote a spokesman for Supermicro, Perry Hayes."
  • Reply 17 of 22
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,402member
    Rayz2016 said:
    glfrost said:
    I wonder if it wasn’t another Clapper and Brennan psy-op designed to cause harm to Chinese trade negotiations and harm Trump administration. Bloomberg reporters said most substantial info came from Obama Admin Sources in an interview I saw!
    Got a link for that?
    It is true that the origins of the story came from Obama era sources.  But that's both reasonable and irrelevant because the hack was reported to have happened during Obama's administration in 2015.

    Because it affected defense systems, it initiated a federal investigation -- so of course the people in charge of our intelligence agencies at the time are involved.

    So much for his conspiracy theory.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,370member
    glfrost said:
    I wonder if it wasn’t another Clapper and Brennan psy-op designed to cause harm to Chinese trade negotiations and harm Trump administration. Bloomberg reporters said most substantial info came from Obama Admin Sources in an interview I saw!
    You keep making this statement about Clapper and Brennan, back it up. Bloomberg said they had people inside national security as anonymous source, I guess you can assume they were in the Obama Admin since Bloomberg claims it happen back in 2015. But the story evolved over the last year so that makes it the Trump Admin.
  • Reply 19 of 22
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,402member
    Every denial is to be believed.   Just as truth is whatever you want it to be or that fits your purposes.  /s

    Tim sites some credible sources.   So does Bloomberg.  And both are honest, have integrity and a reputation to protect.   Hopefully, at some point, we will see if one is completely wrong and the other completely right.  Or, more likely that the truth lies somewhere in the middle between "It happened" and "It never happened".

    In this case, the article points the finger directly at Amazon's AWS -- which many players (including Apple) were using to enter the cloud arena in its early days.   In fact, the article says that Apple was affected.  it doesn't say that Apple's servers were affected.  
    And, Coincidentally:   A year after the hack of Amazon's AWS reportedly happened (2015) Apple cancelled their order for 30,000 SuperMicro servers and moved from Amazon to Google for cloud services.   At the time, I questioned the wisdom of putting Apple's data on Google servers.   Now it makes sense.

    There's just way too much smoke here.
  • Reply 20 of 22
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,370member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Apple needs to file a defamation suit against Bloomberg. This was a deliberate and willful attack on Apple.

    Or was it just really really poor journalism that should see folk fired for incompetence?

    Interesting point though: Amazon states that Bloomberg was trying the same tactic with them. Approaching them with a different story each time, hoping that the fishing expedition would land them something. 

    I think they started off with a rumour and tried to build it into a story. After a year, they realised that they wasted a lot of money and so decided to chance their arm, hoping that by going to press with nothing but in-house diagrams and conjecture, something might shake free.

    Yeah maybe they were hoping a whistle blower would come out of the woodwork and back their conjectures. We are now into the realm of conspiracy theories since one side is saying it never happen and the other will not back down of their story.
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