China’s Microchip- Hack or Hoax?


China’s Microchip- Hack or Hoax? A few days back, Bloomberg Businessweek proclaimed that China did a hardware hack on as many as 30 US companies. The prominent names on the list of seemingly hacked companies, Apple and Amazon, have contradicted the claims regarding China’s microchip. The US Congress, however, didn’t help these companies’ claims of zero hardware hacks.

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China’s Microchip- Hack or Hoax?

What Bloomberg Businessweek Reported

According to what Bloomberg Businessweek claimed, Amazon found the wide-scale hardware hack while they were examining a possible new acquisition. Amazon was looking into utilizing the video service Elemental. Soon enough, it unearthed that the servers Elemental asked customers to install had a tiny microchip nested on the servers’ motherboards.

These servers are manufactured by a Chinese-owned company called Super Micro Computer. In fact, it turned out that numerous US companies employ these servers. This includes Government organizations, banks, and tech companies like Amazon and Apple.

Evidently, Amazon reported the US authorities of its finding, and investigations have been ongoing ever since.

How did the Companies Respond?

Apple and Amazon, in turn, released statements regarding Bloomberg’s explosive article. Here are some parts of those statements:

Apple’s Response

” Over the course of the past year, Bloomberg has contacted us multiple times with claims, sometimes vague and sometimes elaborate, of an alleged security incident at Apple. Each time, we have conducted rigorous internal investigations based on their inquiries, and each time we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them“…”On this, we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server“.

Amazon’s Reaction

“It’s untrue that AWS knew about a supply chain compromise, an issue with malicious chips, or hardware modifications when acquiring Elemental. It’s also untrue that AWS knew about servers containing malicious chips or modifications in the data centers based in China“…”We’ve re-reviewed our records relating to the Elemental acquisition for any issues related to SuperMicro…We’ve found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications“.

Why did China’s Microchip Cause Such Confusion?

Seemingly, this is a hardware hack. A software hack, while incredibly dangerous, can be caught and confined within a reasonable time frame. Software hacks obviously cost the target a lot of money, but they don’t require a complete loss of all the affected servers.

Whereas, Hardware hacks are different. Because most companies don’t (and can’t) check every single aspect of the hardware they’re receiving, there is an inherent trust between suppliers and their customers. Hardware hacks are, in general, difficult to execute but incredibly dangerous if done correctly. With a hardware hack, the attacker has an open door into whatever information they want to get.

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Conclusion -China’s Microchip- Hack or Hoax?

Presumably, nobody really knows if this happened or not. Both sides of the story seem to have compelling evidence to prove themselves true. What we do know is that this will affect how the US approaches offshore tech companies in the future. It may also seriously affect some of the diplomatic treaties currently under speculation by the US Congress. Share your take on by leaving the comments below.


  1. It’s the end of credibility for US business and govt I’m afraid. The constant lies coming out of America at these levels eventually wear off and people simply stop reading anything from the source. this obvious attempt to undermine Chinese tech companies may fly with a small segment of low IQ loyalists, but the vast majority are simply reinforced in their quite correct view of the source, which is that you cannot trust anything they say. it’s a sign of the desperation that grips them now that they will sacrifice even their own morality and credibility in a last ditch attempt to ward off the inevitable. very sad >(..)<


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