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Bloomberg’s report of China hacking comes in for a new round of scepticism

A month after ‘The Big Hack’ was published, questions are raised about the extent of its investigation, with some key allegations attributed to single anonymous sources

Last month, a Bloomberg investigative report contending that Chinese chips had hacked into US corporations and federal agencies using devices equipped with malicious hardware not only stirred up debate but met with adamant denials from three companies singled out in the story, Apple, Amazon and Super Micro.

The Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover story “The Big Hack” detailed how Chinese factories inserted a tiny chip onto computer motherboards and sold them to dozens of US companies, in an aggressive espionage campaign to steal trade and other secrets from the US. Super Micro, which makes the motherboards in question, sells the equipment to Apple and Amazon, which in turn use them in their products.

On the day of the publication, the US companies issued statements to deny the allegations. In its defence of its report, Bloomberg BusinessWeek said the article was the result of more than 100 interviews. Additionally, it cited as many as 17 anonymous sources.

But a new wave of resistance from companies and people mentioned in the story questions the scope of its sourcing and notes that a number of key allegations only relied on a single anonymous source.

When describing the campaign, “The Big Hack” recounted that “in one case, the malicious chips were thin enough that they’d been embedded between the layers of fibreglass onto which the other components were attached, according to one person who saw pictures of the chips”.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2018, 6:50am

UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2018, 6:50am

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