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Bloomberg reported hack

2018-10-04 18:16:45.177389+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

I suspect that this is actually evidence of issues in quality of journalism than of an actual specific exploit, but because it's floating around today I'd like to keep a link to it: Bloomberg: The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies. The assertion is that there was a chip that looked like a signal conditioner on some lines of Supermicro motherboards that wasn't, and this was some kind of backdoor. The technical details on how that would have worked are sketch, obviously something on a bus line would need to then be a tool to trigger some sort of associated code in some higher level systems.

The whole story is kinda tough to accept as-is, we really need more technical details in order to evaluate it, but Amazon is pretty clear: AWS Security Blog: Setting the Record Straight on Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Erroneous Article.

Apple strongly refutes report that it found Chinese ‘spy’ chips in iCloud servers.

CNBC: Chinese spy chips are found in hardware used by Apple, Amazon, Bloomberg says; Apple, AWS say no way:

Asked by CNBC for comment, Apple reiterated its strong denials of the report, stating: "We are deeply disappointed that in their dealings with us, Bloomberg's reporters have not been open to the possibility that they or their sources might be wrong or misinformed. Our best guess is that they are confusing their story with a previously reported 2016 incident in which we discovered an infected driver on a single Super Micro server in one of our labs. That one-time event was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple."

Addendum: Lawfare: The China SuperMicro Hack: About That Bloomberg Report

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Bloomberg reported hack made: 2018-10-04 23:28:57.982281+00 by: Dan Lyke

https://www.apple.com/newsroom...inessweek-got-wrong-about-apple/

#Comment Re: Bloomberg reported hack made: 2018-10-05 12:05:00.175945+00 by: TheSHAD0W

I'm sure the NSA is conducting spot-checks of devices and semiconductors coming from China, and I doubt this particular strategy would work well for espionage. I'd be much more worried about normal-looking IC packages containing a bit more silicon than they're supposed to.

#Comment Re: Bloomberg reported hack made: 2018-10-05 15:36:28.232355+00 by: Dan Lyke

I suspect that a "more silicon than you were expecting" hack would be hard to do on anything but fairly mundane relatively low power devices. Hang a little more off of the side of an ARM core on an FPGA? Yeah, maybe. Get something extra in a modern desktop or laptop CPU? Not a chance.

But a small CPU that can diddle some EERAM control lines while looking like a surface mount capacitor? That ain't impossible.

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