According to a report by Bloomberg titled ‘The Big Hack’, back in 2014 the Chinese liberation army implanted malicious microchips on computer servers bound to 30 US companies.
These servers were targeting large companies including Amazon and Apple. What these chips did was compromise the software on these hardware devices on the level that it cannot be detected. It is in many ways the ultimate silent attack.
Hardware attack is simply the most effective type of computer hacking an organisation can engineer. This is because if a hardware system is compromised, it will affect the software inside.
This story, which took over a year for Bloomberg to complete, continues to confirm the tensions between the two countries and that Technology power is the new way of doing war.
How did this happen?
A Chinese military unit designed and manufactured microchips as small as a pencil tip.
The microchips were inserted at Chinese factories that supplied Supermicro, which is one of the world’s biggest sellers of server mother boards
These compromised motherboards were built into servers’ assembled by Supermicro.
The sabotaged servers then made way inside data centres of several American companies.
How was this discovered?
According to the report, Amazon discovered this years ago when it was acquiring a company called Elemental Technology and as part of a pre-acquisition security audit, several hardware was subject for testing.
In Apple’s case, it was just a random spot check of random servers.
What was the intent of this?
At first one might think that the intent was stealing consumer data but Bloomberg report shows that the attack is all about access. i.e. open access to secret data and stealing of intellectual property.
Amazon, Apple and Supermicro have all denied this but this comes to no surprise since by the leaks it appears that this breach has been part of a highly classified investigation by the US government for quite some time.