Apple Again Denies Allegations That Chinese Spies Installed Malicious Chips in iCloud Servers

Apple Australia

Early on Thursday, Bloomberg published a bombshell report that detailed a scheme implemented by Chinese spies to infiltrate servers from some of the biggest companies in the United States, including Apple.

That report led Apple, and others like Amazon, to publish distinct denials in regards to the report. Apple, for its part, has repeatedly said that it has not ever discovered “malicious chips” in the servers it deploys now, or back in 2015. In Apple’s initial response, it said, in part, that “Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server”.

Apple’s press release this afternoon is a follow-up to the statement it provided directly to Bloomberg, making things a bit more open on Apple’s part. It’s the same PR statement that the publication received earlier in the day, and it reiterates Apple’s strong denials that anything of this nature ever took place. Apple says it never found malicious chips, nor was it ever aware of such a scheme from Chinese spies. It did not contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or any other agency over such an issue, either.

Again, Apple states that it thoroughly inspects all the servers it deploys, and, in those inspections it never found any malicious chips. Furthermore, Siri and Topsy never shared servers, and Siri has never been deployed on servers that were handled by Supermicro, the prime company in Bloomberg‘s initial report.

Apple’s addition to their initial denial is that the company has never heard of this investigation, aside from what the publication has brought to its attention over the last 12 months as part of its reporting:

“Despite numerous discussions across multiple teams and organizations, no one at Apple has ever heard of this investigation. Businessweek has refused to provide us with any information to track down the supposed proceedings or findings. Nor have they demonstrated any understanding of the standard procedures which were supposedly circumvented.

No one from Apple ever reached out to the FBI about anything like this, and we have never heard from the FBI about an investigation of this kind — much less tried to restrict it.

In an appearance this morning on Bloomberg Television, reporter Jordan Robertson made further claims about the supposed discovery of malicious chips, saying, “In Apple’s case, our understanding is it was a random spot check of some problematic servers that led to this detection.”
As we have previously informed Bloomberg, this is completely untrue. Apple has never found malicious chips in our servers.

Finally, in response to questions we have received from other news organizations since Businessweek published its story, we are not under any kind of gag order or other confidentiality obligations.”

Our Take

Apple seems adamant in this regard, but the publication’s reporting seems to be well-sourced and considered. It will be interesting to see what happens next, if anything comes of this at all.

[via Apple]