Earlier today, Bloomberg reported a detailed story on how Amazon and Apple among almost 30 companies have fallen prey to a hardware hack, likely orchestrated by a member of China’s People’s Liberation Army. The story has sent shock waves across the tech industry, as key players have issued statements refuting the story.
“The report that China sought to infiltrate the computer chip supply chain, if true, is deeply disturbing and the latest example of the lengths that Beijing will go to in order to steal America’s official and commercial secrets,” said Representative Adam Schiff of California, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
This story is one among many in the series of reports of how China has always tried to infiltrate American intelligence property through cyber attacks and other means. This particular story, if true, indicates a grave concern for US intelligence and business. A Portland-based company Elemental Technologies had been providing servers to Amazon for their highly secure projects, including government contracts. Tests on the servers revealed a tiny microchip that didn’t belong to the original designs. Elemental’s servers were nestled in the US Department of Defence, CIA among other strategic agencies and organizations tasked with guarding US intelligence.
The suspicion towards China is warranted given the country’s monopoly on manufacturing, as well as supposed intent to hijack US intelligence for their benefit.
Following the story appearing on Bloomberg, company shares of Lenovo fell by 23%, while ZTE Corp shares fell by 11%. There is considerable worry among investors, government agencies and technology companies. Jake Williams, the founder of Rendition Infosec, says in a Verge report it would be an entirely new approach for security teams. “We have a bigger fundamental problem,” Williams says, “which is that this stuff is wicked hard to detect and we don’t have tools to do that.