• Explosive Report Details Chinese Infiltration Of Apple, Amazon And

    From Virus Guy@1:396/4 to All on Thu Oct 4 00:21:38 2018
    From: Virus Guy <Virus@Guy.C0M>

    Explosive Report Details Chinese Infiltration Of Apple, Amazon And The CIA

    Thu, 10/04/2018 - 08:14

    One week ago, President Trump stood up at a meeting of the United
    Nations Security Council and accused China of attempting to tamper with
    US elections - mimicking some of the same allegations that had first
    been levied against Russia nearly two years prior. In his speech, Trump claimed that China was working to undermine Republicans, and even the president himself, warning that "it's not just Russia, it's China and
    Russia." While the media largely shrugged off this proclamation as more presidential bombast probably inspired by the burgeoning US-China trade
    beef, the administration continued to insist that it was taking a harder
    line against Chinese efforts to subvert American companies to aide the Communist Party's sprawling intelligence apparatus. As if to underline
    Trump's point, the FBI had arrested a Taiwanese national in Chicago the
    day before Trump's speech, accusing the 27-year-old suspect of trying to
    help China flip eight defense contractors who could have provided
    crucial intelligence on sensitive defense-related technology.

    But in a game-changing report published Thursday morning, Bloomberg Businessweek exposed a sprawling multi-year investigation into China's infiltration of US corporate and defense infrastructure. Most notably,
    it confirmed that, in addition to efforts designed to sway US elections, China' intelligence community orchestrated a pervasive infiltration of
    servers used to power everything from MRI machines to the drones used by
    the CIA and army. They accomplished this using a tiny microchip no
    bigger than a grain of rice.

    BBG published the report just hours before Vice President Mike Pence was expected to "string together a narrative of Chinese aggression" during a speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington. According to excerpts
    leaked to the New York Times, his speech was expected to focus on
    examples of China's "aggressive moves against American warships, of
    predatory behavior against their neighbors, and of a sophisticated
    influence campaign to tilt the midterms and 2020 elections against
    President Trump". His speech is also expected to focus on how China
    leverages debt and its capital markets to force foreign governments to
    submit to its will (something that has happened in Bangladesh and the
    Czech Republic.


    But while those narratives are certainly important, they pale in
    comparison to Bloomberg's revelations, which reported on an ongoing
    government investigation into China's use of a "tiny microchip" that
    found its way into servers that were widely used throughout the US
    military and intelligence infrastructure, from Navy warships to DoD
    server farms. The probe began three years ago after the US intelligence agencies were tipped off by Amazon. And three years later, it remains

    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.

    With those two paragraphs, Bloomberg has succeeded in shifting the
    prevailing narrative away from Russia and toward China. Or, as Pence is expected to state in Thursday's speech (via NYT) "as a senior career
    member of our intelligence community recently told me, what the Russians
    are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country."

    The story begins with a Silicon Valley startup called Elemental. Founded
    in 2006 by three engineers who brilliantly anticipated that broadcasters
    would soon be searching for a way to adapt their programming for
    streaming over the Internet, and on mobile devices like smartphones,
    Elemental went about building a "dream team" of coders who designed
    software to adapt the super-fast graphics chips being designed for video gaming to stream video instead. The company then loaded this software on
    to special, custom-built servers emblazoned with its logo. These servers
    then sold for as much as $100,000 a pop - a markup of roughly 70%. In
    2009, the company received its first contract with US defense and
    intelligence contractors, and even received an investment from a
    CIA-backed venture fund.

    * Elemental also started working with American spy agencies. In
    2009 the company announced a development partnership with In-Q-Tel Inc.,
    the CIA's investment arm, a deal that paved the way for Elemental
    servers to be used in national security missions across the U.S.
    government. Public documents, including the company's own promotional materials, show that the servers have been used inside Department of
    Defense data centers to process drone and surveillance-camera footage,
    on Navy warships to transmit feeds of airborne missions, and inside
    government buildings to enable secure videoconferencing. NASA, both
    houses of Congress, and the Department of Homeland Security have also
    been customers. This portfolio made Elemental a target for foreign adversaries.

    Like many other companies, Elementals' servers utilized motherboards
    built by Supermicro, which dominates the market for motherboards used in special-purpose computers. It was here, at Supermicro, where the
    government believes - according to Bloomberg's sources - that the
    infiltration began. Before it came to dominate the global market for
    computer motherboards, Supermicro had humble beginnings. A Taiwanese
    engineer and his wife founded the company in 1993, at a time when
    Silicon Valley was embracing outsourcing. It attracted clients early on
    with the promise of infinite customization, employing a massive team of engineers to make sure it could accommodate its clients' every need.
    Customers also appreciated that, while Supermicro's motherboards were assembled in China or Taiwan, its engineers were based in Silicon
    Valley. But the company's workforce featured one characteristic that
    made it uniquely attractive to China: A sizable portion of its engineers
    were native Mandarin speakers. One of Bloomberg's sources said the
    government is still investigating whether spies were embedded within Supermicro or other US companies).

    But however it was done, these tiny microchips somehow found their way
    into Supermicro's products. Bloomberg provided a step-by-step guide
    detailing how it believes that happened.

    * A Chinese military unit designed and manufactured
    microchips as small as a sharpened pencil tip. Some
    of the chips were built to look like signal conditioning
    couplers, and they incorporated memory, networking
    capability, and sufficient processing power for an

    * The microchips were inserted at Chinese factories that
    supplied Supermicro, one of the world's biggest sellers
    of server motherboards.

    * The compromised motherboards were built into servers
    assembled by Supermicro.

    * The sabotaged servers made their way inside data centers
    operated by dozens of companies.

    * When a server was installed and switched on, the
    microchip altered the operating system's core so
    it could accept modifications. The chip could also
    contact computers controlled by the attackers in
    search of further instructions and code.

    In espionage circles, infiltrating computer hardware - especially to the degree that the Chinese did - is extremely difficult to pull off. And
    doing it at the nation-state level would be akin to "a unicorn jumping
    over a rainbow," as one of BBG's anonymous sources put it. But China's dominance of the market for PCs and mobile phones allows it a massive advantage.

    One country in particular has an advantage executing this kind of
    attack: China, which by some estimates makes 75 percent of the world's
    mobile phones and 90 percent of its PCs. Still, to actually accomplish a seeding attack would mean developing a deep understanding of a product's design, manipulating components at the factory, and ensuring that the
    doctored devices made it through the global logistics chain to the
    desired location - a feat akin to throwing a stick in the Yangtze River upstream from Shanghai and ensuring that it washes ashore in Seattle.
    "Having a well-done, nation-state-level hardware implant surface would
    be like witnessing a unicorn jumping over a rainbow," says Joe Grand, a hardware hacker and the founder of Grand Idea Studio Inc. "Hardware is
    just so far off the radar, it's almost treated like black magic."

    But that's just what U.S. investigators found: 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.

    Some more details from the report are summarized below:

    The government found that the infiltration extended to nearly 30
    companies, including Amazon and Apple.

    * 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. Apple severed ties with
    Supermicro the following year, for what it described as unrelated reasons.

    Both Amazon and Apple denied having knowledge of the infiltration
    (Amazon eventually acquired Elemental and integrated it into its Amazon
    Prime Video service). Meanwhile, the Chinese government issued a
    conspicuous non-denial denial.

    * In emailed statements, Amazon (which announced its acquisition of
    Elemental in September 2015), Apple, and Supermicro disputed summaries
    of Bloomberg Businessweek's reporting. "It's untrue that AWS knew about
    a supply chain compromise, an issue with malicious chips, or hardware modifications when acquiring Elemental," Amazon wrote. "On this we can
    be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, 'hardware
    manipulations' or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,"
    Apple wrote. "We remain unaware of any such investigation," wrote a
    spokesman for Supermicro, Perry Hayes. The Chinese government didn't
    directly address questions about manipulation of Supermicro servers,
    issuing a statement that read, in part, "Supply chain safety in
    cyberspace is an issue of common concern, and China is also a victim."
    The FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence,
    representing the CIA and NSA, declined to comment.

    Bloomberg based its story on interviews with 17 anonymous sources,
    including 6 former government intelligence officials. One official told
    BBG that China's long-term goal was "long-term access" to sensitive
    government secrets.

    * In all, 17 people confirmed the manipulation of Supermicro's hardware
    and other elements of the attacks. The sources were granted anonymity
    because of the sensitive, and in some cases classified, nature of the information.

    * The companies' denials are countered by six current and former senior national security officials, who - in conversations that began during
    the Obama administration and continued under the Trump administration - detailed the discovery of the chips and the government's investigation.
    One of those officials and two people inside AWS provided extensive information on how the attack played out at Elemental and Amazon; the
    official and one of the insiders also described Amazon's cooperation
    with the government investigation. In addition to the three Apple
    insiders, four of the six U.S. officials confirmed that Apple was a
    victim. In all, 17 people confirmed the manipulation of Supermicro's
    hardware and other elements of the attacks. The sources were granted
    anonymity because of the sensitive, and in some cases classified, nature
    of the information.

    One government official says China's goal was long-term access to
    high-value corporate secrets and sensitive government networks. No
    consumer data is known to have been stolen.

    Notably, this revelation provides even more support to the Trump administration's insistence that the trade war with China was based on national security concerns. The hope is that more US companies will
    shift production of sensitive components back to the US.

    * The ramifications of the attack continue to play out. The Trump administration has made computer and networking hardware, including motherboards, a focus of its latest round of trade sanctions against
    China, and White House officials have made it clear they think companies
    will begin shifting their supply chains to other countries as a result.
    Such a shift might assuage officials who have been warning for years
    about the security of the supply chain—even though they've never
    disclosed a major reason for their concerns.

    As one government official reminds us, the extent of this attack cannot
    be understated.

    * With more than 900 customers in 100 countries by 2015, Supermicro
    offered inroads to a bountiful collection of sensitive targets. "Think
    of Supermicro as the Microsoft of the hardware world," says a former
    U.S. intelligence official who's studied Supermicro and its business
    model. "Attacking Supermicro motherboards is like attacking Windows.
    It's like attacking the whole world."

    But perhaps the most galling aspect of this whole scandal is that the
    Obama Administration should have seen it coming.

    * Well before evidence of the attack surfaced inside the networks of
    U.S. companies, American intelligence sources were reporting that
    China's spies had plans to introduce malicious microchips into the
    supply chain. The sources weren't specific, according to a person
    familiar with the information they provided, and millions of
    motherboards are shipped into the U.S. annually. But in the first half
    of 2014, a different person briefed on high-level discussions says, intelligence officials went to the White House with something more
    concrete: China's military was preparing to insert the chips into
    Supermicro motherboards bound for U.S. companies.

    And thanks to Obama having dropped the ball, China managed to pull off
    the most expansive infiltration of the global supply chain ever
    discovered by US intelligence.

    * But that's just what U.S. investigators found: 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.

    The inconspicuous-looking chips were disguised to look like regular
    components but they helped China open doors that "other hackers could go through" meaning China could potentially manipulate the systems being infiltrated (as a reminder, these chips were found in servers used in
    the US drone program).

    * The chips on Elemental servers were designed to be as inconspicuous as possible, according to one person who saw a detailed report prepared for Amazon by its third-party security contractor, as well as a second
    --- NewsGate v1.0 gamma 2
    * Origin: News Gate @ Net396 -Huntsville, AL - USA (1:396/4)
  • From Virus Guy@1:396/4 to All on Thu Oct 4 00:21:38 2018
    From: Virus Guy <Virus@Guy.C0M>

    person who saw digital photos and X-ray images of the chips incorporated
    into a later report prepared by Amazon's security team. Gray or
    off-white in color, they looked more like signal conditioning couplers, another common motherboard component, than microchips, and so they were unlikely to be detectable without specialized equipment. Depending on
    the board model, the chips varied slightly in size, suggesting that the attackers had supplied different factories with different batches.

    * Officials familiar with the investigation say the primary role of
    implants such as these is to open doors that other attackers can go
    through. “Hardware attacks are about access,” as one former senior
    official puts it. In simplified terms, the implants on Supermicro
    hardware manipulated the core operating instructions that tell the
    server what to do as data move across a motherboard, two people familiar
    with the chips' operation say. This happened at a crucial moment, as
    small bits of the operating system were being stored in the board's
    temporary memory en route to the server's central processor, the CPU.
    The implant was placed on the board in a way that allowed it to
    effectively edit this information queue, injecting its own code or
    altering the order of the instructions the CPU was meant to follow.
    Deviously small changes could create disastrous effects.

    * Since the implants were small, the amount of code they contained was
    small as well. But they were capable of doing two very important things: telling the device to communicate with one of several anonymous
    computers elsewhere on the internet that were loaded with more complex
    code; and preparing the device's operating system to accept this new
    code. <strong>The illicit chips could do all this because they were
    connected to the baseboard management controller, a kind of superchip
    that administrators use to remotely log in to problematic servers,
    giving them access to the most sensitive code even on machines that have crashed or are turned off.

    * This system could let the attackers alter how the device functioned,
    line by line, however they wanted, leaving no one the wiser. To
    understand the power that would give them, take this hypothetical
    example: Somewhere in the Linux operating system, which runs in many
    servers, is code that authorizes a user by verifying a typed password
    against a stored encrypted one. An implanted chip can alter part of that
    code so the server won't check for a password—and presto! A secure
    machine is open to any and all users.

    Shortly after the report was published, the US Department of Defense has scheduled a national-security related press conference for 9:30 am ET on Thursday. It didn't reveal the subject of the briefing, but the timing
    is certainly suspicious...

    Something's popping tomorrow pic.twitter.com/z66dNh6Px6
    — Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) October 4, 2018

    But regardless of what is said on Thursday, one thing probably won't
    change: Expect to hear a lot less about Russia, and a lot more about
    China as the deep state's interference myopic focus on the former shifts
    to the latter. As Kevin Warsh framed the question during a Thursday
    interview with CNBC where he asked "are we at the beginning of a 20-year
    Cold War?" in response to a question about curbing China's influence -
    both economically and defensively. We imagine we'll be hearing a lot
    more about the breach from senior US officials, including both the vice president and the president himself, in the very near future.

    --- NewsGate v1.0 gamma 2
    * Origin: News Gate @ Net396 -Huntsville, AL - USA (1:396/4)
  • From Shadow@1:396/4 to All on Fri Oct 5 00:42:16 2018
    From: Shadow <Sh@dow.br>

    On Thu, 04 Oct 2018 10:21:38 -0400, Virus Guy <Virus@Guy.C0M> wrote:

    Explosive Report Details Chinese Infiltration Of Apple, Amazon And The CIA

    It's the only way they can monitor what the Russians are up
    to. Russian security is far too solid, so they monitor one of its
    Don't be evil - Google 2004
    We have a new policy - Google 2012
    --- NewsGate v1.0 gamma 2
    * Origin: News Gate @ Net396 -Huntsville, AL - USA (1:396/4)