China 'put tiny chips in US computers to steal tech secrets'

Posted in 04 October 2018

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Apple and Amazon are distancing themselves from the claims, with China saying it is "a resolute defender of cyber security".

Tiny chips inserted in US computer equipment manufactured in China were used as part of a vast effort by Beijing to steal US technology secrets, according to Bloomberg.

Apple and Amazon have distanced themselves from claims that they were among US companies targeted by the Chinese hackers.

Bloomberg reported that the chips were inserted in computer motherboards manufactured in China for US-based supplier Super Micro Computer.

It said dozens of large US firms and agencies were using the hardware - but Amazon first discovered the chips, the size of a grain of rice, during a security review it ordered after buying a software firm called Elemental three years ago.

Bloomberg said the retail-to-cloud computing company alerted US authorities at the time, resulting in an inquiry and a string of firms cancelling Super Micro orders.

Its findings were released at a sensitive time given President Donald Trump's trade war against China, partly linked to US accusations of intellectual property theft by Beijing.

Only a week ago, he further accused China of interfering in his country's midterm elections.

The computer chips, Bloomberg explained, enabled spies linked to the People's Liberation Army - a unit of the Chinese forces - to create a "stealth doorway" into computer equipment through hardware - more difficult to detect than a software hack.