AMAZON AND SUPER MICRO have followed Tim Cook in urging Bloomberg to retract its story that claimed malicious computer chips inserted by Chinese intelligence agents were able to compromise the systems of as many as 30 companies.
The report, published earlier this month, claimed that Chinese intelligence authorities had placed tiny spy chips on motherboards used in Supermicro servers purchased by 30 American companies including Apple and Amazon, as well as governmental organisations.
This, the article claimed, allowed the Chinese authorities to eavesdrop on the affected organisations, stealing secrets, designs and strategies.
Last week, in an unprecedented move, Apple CEO Tim Cook called for the "disappointing" story to be retracted.
"There is no truth in their story about Apple," Cook told BuzzFeed News. "They need to do that right thing and retract it."
"I personally talked to the Bloomberg reporters along with Bruce Sewell, who was then our general counsel. We were very clear with them that this did not happen, and answered all their questions," he added. "Each time they brought this up to us, the story changed, and each time we investigated we found nothing."
Cook also took issue with the lack of evidence Bloomberg provided to support its claims.
"We turned the company upside down," he said. "Email searches, data centre records, financial records, shipment records. We really forensically whipped through the company to dig very deep and each time we came back to the same conclusion: This did not happen. There's no truth to this."
And when asked if a scenario like the one Bloomberg described could occur without him knowing about it, Cook replied: "The likelihood of that is virtually zero."
Since, both Amazon and Super Micro have followed suit. Amazon Web Services (AWS) executive Andy Jassy said in a tweet on Monday that Tim Cook is "right", and called for Bloomberg to take down the story.
@tim_cook is right. Bloomberg story is wrong about Amazon, too. 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. https://t.co/RZzuUt9fBM— Andy Jassy (@ajassy) October 22, 2018
Super Micro CEO Charles Liang, just hours later, also called for Bloomberg to retract its "unsupported allegations".
"Super Micro is committed to making world-class servers and storage products. Bloomberg's recent story has created unwarranted confusion and concern for our customers, and has caused our customers, and us, harm.
"Bloomberg should act responsibly and retract its unsupported allegations. The allegations imply there are a large number of affected motherboards. Bloomberg as not predicted 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."
In response, Bloomberg reiterated its previous defence of the story.
"Bloomberg Businessweek's investigation is the result of more than a year of reporting, during which we conducted more than 100 interviews," a spokesperson said.
"17 individual sources, including government officials and insiders at the companies, confirmed the manipulation of hardware and other elements of the attacks. We also published three companies' full statements, as well as a statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"We stand by our story and are confident in our reporting and sources." µ
In China, at least
The scales fall from their eyes