On Thursday, Bloomberg published a blockbuster investigation that found that Chinese spies were able to plant tiny microchips on motherboards in data servers bought by American tech giants including Amazon and Apple.
The report 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 USA government agencies, which would give Beijing secret access to internal networks. The spies' objective was to be able to gain access to "high-value corporate secrets and sensitive government networks", the report said.
The FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, representing the CIA and NSA, declined to comment to Bloomberg.
Neither AWS, Super Micro nor the Chinese foreign ministry immediately responded to requests for further comment.
Needless to say, all involved, including Beijing, deny the allegations, cry wolf, and say the facts are either misrepresented or non-existent, but the fallout is yet to be felt completely.
Apple added that it had repeatedly provided on the record facts to refute "virtually every aspect of Bloomberg's story relating to Apple".
"Apple has never found malicious chips, ´hardware manipulations´ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server", the company said.
Amazon reportedly discovered the issue in 2015 after buying video service firm Elemental. In all, 17 people confirmed the manipulation of Supermicro's hardware and other elements of the attacks.
The story cited 17 unnamed sources, including industry insiders and current and former USA officials.
The story starts in 2015, when Amazon began evaluating a startup called Elemental Technologies.
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The operation is thought to have been targeting valuable commercial secrets and government networks, the news agency said.
"We are deeply disappointed that in their dealings with us, Bloomberg's reporters have not been open to the possibility that they or their sources might be wrong or misinformed", Apple said, in part. Nor have we engaged in an investigation with the government.
Super Micro Computer may have been the prime target in a hack allegedly carried out by the Chinese military. They had fallen as low as $8.50 earlier in the session.
The Bloomberg report claims that the rice-sized chips were hidden on server motherboards produced by San Jose-based firm Super Micro.
Apple took Bloomberg to task, saying the agency had contacted it "multiple times with claims, sometimes vague and sometimes elaborate, of an alleged security incident".
The reported manipulation of electronics supply chains to USA companies is certain to sharpen long-standing questions about the crucial but uneasy relationship between the world's two leading economies. That one-time event was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple.
Update 15.02 BST: At the time of writing, five hours after Bloomberg's investigation was released, Supermicro's share price is down 30.42 percent to $14.89.
"Its technology had helped stream the Olympic Games online, communicate with the International Space Station, and funnel drone footage to the Central Intelligence Agency", the report explains.
According to the report, no consumer data had been stolen.