Department of Homeland Security backs up Apple’s China spy chip claims


iMac Apple
Look for this story to continue making waves this week.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The Department of Homeland Security says that it believes Apple’s denial of claims that Chinese spies had inserted malicious chips into its computer system. Based on current evidence, at least.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the DHS press secretary said that the, “The Department of Homeland Security is aware of the media reports of a technology supply chain compromise … [but that] at this time we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story.”

It continued that:

“Information and communications technology supply chain security is core to DHS’s cybersecurity mission and we are committed to the security and integrity of the technology on which Americans and others around the world increasingly rely. Just this month – National Cybersecurity Awareness Month – we launched several government-industry initiatives to develop near- and long-term solutions to manage risk posed by the complex challenges of increasingly global supply chains. These initiatives will build on existing partnerships with a wide range of technology companies to strengthen our nation’s collective cybersecurity and risk management efforts.”

The Department of Homeland Security’s statement follows a very similar conclusion reached by the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center. The British organization said that it also had “no reason to doubt” the refutations. However, it encouraged, “anybody with credible intelligence about these reports to contact us.”

A nothing burger or the year’s biggest tech story?

The allegations being responded to were published in a Bloomberg Businessweek report last week. It cited 17 sources, and claimed that China used “a tiny chip to infiltrate America’s top companies.” These chips were supposedly put into server motherboards manufactured by Super Micro, and allowed spies to, “access high-value corporate secrets and sensitive government networks.”

Apple quickly sprang into action to characterize the story as, “wrong and misinformed.” Amazon — another of the companies mentioned in the piece — said that there were, “so many inaccuracies in ‎this article as it relates to Amazon that they’re hard to count.”

Not everyone has dismissed the report though. A former Apple engineer, who spent nearly six years at Apple working on the iPod, iPhone and Apple Watch, suggested that the claims sound, “very highly plausible.”

Look for this story to continue making waves this week.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.