GOP senator wants Apple, Amazon to give briefing on reported Super Micro hack

GOP senator wants Apple, Amazon to give briefing on reported Super Micro hack
© Greg Nash

One of the top Republicans in Congress wants Amazon, Apple and information technology company Super Micro to hold a congressional briefing over concerns about a hardware hack reportedly carried out against them by the Chinese government.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns GOP senators divided over approach to election security McSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' MORE (S.D.), the No. 3 Senate Republican who serves as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, sent letters on Oct. 5 to the CEOs of each of the companies asking them to brief committee staff on the reported hack.

In his letter provided to The Hill, Thune said that he wanted the briefing to occur no later than this Friday, and a committee source said that the first of several potential briefings could happen as early as this week by the deadline.

“Allegations that the U.S. hardware supply chain has been purposefully tampered with by a foreign power must be taken seriously,” Thune wrote in his letter.

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“Accordingly, while I appreciate the statements [each company] has already issued about this matter, I request that the company also provide a briefing to Committee staff as soon as possible but no later than October 12, on this matter and the compan[ies] broader efforts to secure your supply chain.”

Representatives from Amazon, Apple and Super Micro did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the requested briefing.

Apple, however, did send Thune as well as other lawmakers including Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemocrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups How Jim Bridenstine recruited an old enemy to advise NASA MORE (D-Fla.), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHillicon Valley: House lawmakers reach deal on robocall bill | Laid-off journalists launch ads targeting tech giants | Apple seeks tariff exemptions | Facebook's Libra invites scrutiny Bipartisan House lawmakers announce compromise anti-robocall bill Key senators release bipartisan package to lower health care costs MORE (R-Ore.) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) a letter pushing back on the Bloomberg Businessweek report about the hack.

Apple said that it had conducted internal investigations on the claims in the Bloomberg report, but said that the most important points of the story were false.

“In the end, our internal investigations directly contradict every consequential assertion made in the article,” wrote George Stathakopoulos, Apple’s vice president of information security.

“Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,” he continued. “We never alerted the FBI to any security concerns like those described in the article, nor has the FBI ever contacted us about such an investigation.”

The magazine reported last week that chips manufactured by Super Micro had been compromised by the Chinese government –– which installed small chips, slightly larger than a grain of rice –– onto motherboards that were sold to other companies such as Apple and Amazon as well as others with U.S. government contracts.

Amazon and Super Micro have also denied the veracity of Bloomberg’s story.

Still, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that a security expert came forward with evidence that an unnamed telecommunications company he works for also endured a similar hardware hack in chips manufactured by Super Micro.