Chinese Spy Chips Discovered Attached to Hardware of Major Server Supplier

china spy chip super micro

A report done by Bloomberg has uncovered Chinese spy chips attached to server motherboards produced by American IT company Super Micro. The chips were designed by a Chinese military unit for the purpose of cyber espionage and hacking campaigns. Apple and Amazon became discovered the malicious hardware in 2015 and notified relevant authorities. After becoming aware of the issue, U.S intelligence agencies and the FBI have been conducting a three-year secret investigation that remains open till this day.

Super Micro is a U.S information technology company and one of the worlds largest supplier of server motherboards. It is suspected that Chinese state actors infiltrated the factories in China and Taiwan where Super Micro’s server motherboards are built. They would install the spy chips on Super Micro motherboards during the assembly process. The servers would then be assembled and shipped to hundreds of companies around the world.

The chip is extremely small, no bigger than the tip of a pen. They were designed with enough memory, networking and processing capabilities to pass simple commands to the servers core operating system. However, these simple commands are capable of modifying the operating system to establish communications with remote computers. These computer would then send more complex code and instructions back to the server.

Apple, Super Micro, and Amazon deny Bloomberg’s disclosure of the incident stating that no such incident happened and that they are not involved in any investigation with the FBI regarding the incident. However, one can’t help taking these statements as a grain of salt. Since this not-so-secret-anymore investigation is still ongoing, the companies might be unable to provide details on the matter.

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