Hey, what’s that grain of rice doing?


Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. Elemental’s servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships. And Elemental was just one of hundreds of Supermicro customers.

During the ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines. Multiple people familiar with the matter say investigators found that the chips had been inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China.

The chips had been inserted during the manufacturing process, two officials say, by operatives from a unit of the People’s Liberation Army. In Supermicro, China’s spies appear to have found a perfect conduit for what U.S. officials now describe as the most significant supply chain attack known to have been carried out against American companies.

One official says investigators found that it eventually affected almost 30 companies, including a major bank, government contractors, and the world’s most valuable company, Apple Inc. Apple was an important Supermicro customer and had planned to order more than 30,000 of its servers in two years for a new global network of data centers. Three senior insiders at Apple say that in the summer of 2015, it, too, found malicious chips on Supermicro motherboards.

Maybe the FBI and a CA senator should investigate. That’ll do the trick.

3 Responses to “Hey, what’s that grain of rice doing?”

  1. feeblemind Says:

    Only Progressives would be so naive and trusting to believe that China would build chips strictly to American specs.

    It would run counter to The Narrative to think otherwise.

    One can only hope that this was a reality check for them and that the same mistakes won’t be made in future.

  2. feeblemind Says:

    Wretch at Belmont Club says:

    Global interdependence, whether reflected in manufacturing partnerships or international political corruption imposed risks which are only now being fully realized. China can spy on the West and it’s hard to do anything about it. The difficulty of escaping from the logistics trap was forcefully described by the South China Morning Post. “Tethered by the supply chain: US tech community resists Donald Trump’s China tariffs, fearing collateral damage.” Companies and countries are now tethered to their enemies.


  3. Neil Says:

    It seems strange that both Apple and Amazon would categorically deny that any such thing ever happened. You’d think such a material falsehood would put them in jeopardy of a lawsuit. And then there’s the unexpected death of the founder of Elemental…

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