October saw the headline dominated by a Bloomberg report that claimed Chinese spy chips had been found on motherboards manufactured by Super Micro and included in servers used by Apple, Amazon, and many other firms. The report claimed Apple was aware of the chips and had reported the situation to the FBI.
All involved – Apple, Amazon and Super Micro – denied the claims, but the motherboard supplier decided the only way to lay this to rest was to commission an independent audit to investigate. That investigation has now been completed, and the firm says it found absolutely no evidence to support the story.
Computer hardware maker Super Micro Computer Inc told customers on Tuesday that an outside investigations firm had found no evidence of any malicious hardware in its current or older-model motherboards.
In a letter to customers, the San Jose, California, company said it was not surprised by the result of the review it commissioned in October […] A person familiar with the analysis told Reuters it had been conducted by global firm Nardello & Co and that customers could ask for more detail on that company’s findings.
Nardello tested samples of the motherboards supplied to Amazon and Apple, comparing them to current samples of the boards, and found no evidence of spy chips in any of the samples. The firm also checked design files and software for evidence of tampering, but found none.
The initial Bloomberg report was widely doubted by many when it first appeared. The report appeared to be poorly sourced, lacked details on how the alleged chip worked, and technical arguments against the claims were strongly supported.
As for Apple itself, it went beyond simply saying no, this never happened, it’s comments were the corporate equivalent of saying “Oh, HELL no!” The Cupertino firm said nothing like the claims had ever happened, that the company was not under a gag order, and that there was no advantage in staying quiet about any alleged Chinese spying.
The Department of Homeland Security, the NSA, and the U.K.’s GCHO all backed the denials, and Apple even repeated its denials to the U.S. Congress. Even one of Bloomberg’s own sources told them the claims made no sense.
Apple has called upon Bloomberg to retract their story, but no response from the publication as yet. Super Micro is reportedly considering its legal options.