Apple, Amazon deny report on Chinese hardware attack

“Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,” the Cupertino-based company said. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2018
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Apple, Amazon deny report on Chinese hardware attack

  • Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Chinese spies had placed computer chips inside equipment used by around 30 companies
  • Bloomberg reported that the malicious chips were planted by a unit of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army

LONDON: Apple and Amazon denied a Bloomberg report on Thursday that their systems contained malicious computer chips inserted by Chinese intelligence, statements from the tech companies released separately by Bloomberg showed.
Bloomberg Businessweek cited 17 unnamed intelligence and company sources as saying that Chinese spies had placed computer chips inside equipment used by around 30 companies, as well as multiple US government agencies, which would give Beijing secret access to internal networks.
Reuters was unable to reach Apple, Amazon or representatives with the FBI, Dept of Homeland Security Agency and National Security Agency for comment.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a written request for comment on Thursday. Beijing has previously denied allegations of orchestrating cyberattacks against Western companies.
Amazon, in a statement published by Bloomberg, said: “We’ve found no evidence to support claims of malicious chips or hardware modifications.”
Apple said it had refuted “virtually every aspect” of the story in on-record responses to Bloomberg. “Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,” the company said.
Bloomberg reported that the malicious chips were planted by a unit of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which infiltrated the supply chain of a hardware company called Supermicro. The operation is thought to have been targeting valuable commercial secrets and government networks, the news agency said.
A representative for Supermicro at its European headquarters in the Netherlands said the company was unable to provide an immediate comment.
There have been increased concerns about foreign intelligence agencies infiltrating US and other companies via so-called “supply chain attacks,” particularly from China where multiple global tech firms outsource their manufacturing.
The US government on Wednesday warned that a hacking group widely known as cloudhopper, which Western cybersecurity firms have linked to the Chinese government, has launched attacks on technology service providers in a campaign to steal data from their clients.
The warning came after experts with two prominent US cybersecurity companies warned this week that Chinese hacking activity has surged amid the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing.


Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Updated 20 October 2018
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Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FACTOID

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.