Amazon and Supermicro echo calls for retraction of Bloomberg chip story

23 Oct 2018135 Views

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Executives from Amazon and Supermicro are following Apple’s lead and calling for a Bloomberg story about an alleged ‘spy chip’ to be retracted.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently spoke about the now infamous Bloomberg chip story, which alleged that Chinese spies had infiltrated the hardware supply chain of major companies using a ‘spy chip’.

Cook said there is “no truth” to the allegations and called for the publication to formally retract the story. Now, Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Andy Jassy and Supermicro CEO Charles Liang have both said the story should be retracted.

In a tweet, Jassy said: “They offered no proof, story kept changing, and showed no interest in our answers unless we [AWS] could validate their theories. Reporters got played or took liberties. Bloomberg should retract.”

Supermicro is reviewing its products

In a letter to customers, Supermicro said it would continue to review its hardware for any proof of malicious chips, but added that such a hack would be “practically impossible” and that a review would be “complicated and time-consuming”.

It continued: “We are a customer-focused, engineering-led culture, so we test our products at every step along the way. We check every board, we check every layer of every board, and we check the board’s design visually and functionally, throughout the entire manufacturing process.

“Our employees are on site with our assembly contractors throughout the process. These inspections include several automated optical inspections, visual inspections and other functional inspections. We also periodically employ spot checks and x-ray scans of our motherboards along with regular audits of our contract manufacturers.”

No affected hardware has surfaced to date

Liang told CNBC: “Bloomberg has not produced a single affected motherboard, we have seen no malicious hardware components in our products, no government agency has contacted us about malicious hardware components and no customer has reported finding any malicious hardware components either.”

Supermicro shares plummeted following the publication of the story and while it did recover 9pc to $14.74, The Register reported the share price was still down 31pc from before the story hit the internet.

Bloomberg has continued to stand by the story, despite the calls for it to be pulled. The publication insisted that the denial of the incident by the Department of Homeland Security was not entirely watertight as the investigation was allegedly run by a separate agency, the FBI.

No physical examples of the bugged hardware in question have turned up as of yet. Bloomberg said that 17 different people confirmed the manipulation of hardware and other elements of the story, and added that it remained confident in its reporting and sources.

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com