Espionage has existed since the world world. The difference is that now, with all this technology surrounding us, a lot has evolved. Want an example? So here it goes: the Bloomberg Businessweek He said that data centers operated by Apple, Amazon and many other American companies (about 30 in total) as well as agencies of the US government itself may have been subject to surveillance by the Chinese government.
Like everything else in the world made in China today, the government would have taken advantage of this advantage to insert a microchip in this equipment during its manufacture. Such information would have been passed on Bloomberg Businessweek by no less than 17 anonymous sources from the government and the companies themselves, as reported by Reuters.
Also according to Bloomberg Businessweek, the chips that would have been implanted by the Chinese company Super Micro were used to gather intellectual property and trade secrets of American companies. Such chips, however, have been investigated by the US government since 2015.
Some of the companies involved in the story (Apple, Amazon and Super Micro), as expected, responded to the report. Apple said it did not find the chips in its equipment; Amazon said it found no evidence to support such an accusation; Super Micro has denied that it introduced such chips during manufacture; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, for its part, said that "China is a resolute defender of cybersecurity".
Here is the statement that Apple gave CNBC:
We are deeply disappointed that in conversations with us, the reporters of Bloomberg there was no possibility that they or their sources could be wrong or misinformed. Our best guess is that they?re confusing history with an incident reported in 2016, in which we discovered a driver infected on a single Super Micro server in one of our labs. This single event was concluded to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple.
To the Bloomberg, the problem was discovered in 2015 and was even confirmed by independent security researchers hired by the companies. Super Micro's servers were reportedly removed from Apple's infrastructure that year, according to the report, which also stated that ties with Super Micro were severed in 2016. A follow-up investigation involving several government agencies would also have been conducted and It is concluded that user data was not stolen as part of the alleged Chinese government espionage.
The fact that, if Chinese component manufacturers (like Huawei and ZTE) were already in the sights of the USA before this story came up, imagine now! It is not surprising that the discussion around intellectual property theft is one of the main arguments for the trade restrictions that the American government has been imposing on China under the baton of Donald Trump.
Something tells me that this story is very, very far from over.
Update 10/04/2018 s 17:12
Apple has now released a press release reinforcing that the Bloomberg Businessweek ?Incorrectly reports that Apple found? malicious chips ?on servers in its network in 2015? and that it ?repeatedly explained to reporters and editors at Bloomberg the past 12 months ?that these allegations they are not true.
In addition to repeating the long statement given Bloomberg (one of her excerpts is in the quote above, given also for the CNBC), Apple said reporter Jordan Robertson's claims (that the problem had been detected by Apple in a random scan of some problematic servers) were false, repeating that it ?never found malicious chips? on its servers.
To make his position clear, Ma also informed that he is not under any kind of gag order or other confidentiality obligations imposed by the government.