Not content to let the Bloomberg spy chip story stand as is, Super Micro is speaking out on the matter. In an SEC filing marked Exhibit 99.1, the company was adamant about their views.
“We trust you appreciate the difficulty of proving that something did not happen, even though the reporters have produced no affected motherboard or any such malicious hardware chip. As we have said firmly, no one has shown us a motherboard containing any unauthorized hardware chip, we are not aware of any such unauthorized chip, and no government agency has alerted us to the existence of any unauthorized chip. Despite the lack of any proof that a malicious hardware chip exists, we are undertaking a complicated and time-consuming review to further address the article.”
Super Micro’s stock took a substantial hit when the story broke. They are in a difficult position as they will have a hard time disproving a negative. Making matters worse, the alleged Chinese spy chip is as small as a grain of rice. It is not the sort of thing that would be easily detected with a simple visual scan. The inability to find it would not constitute evidence that it is not there.
Many tend to overestimate what is technically possible, and how often the implausible actually happens. It is very difficult to convince someone that a thing didn’t happen if they believe that it happens all the time.
Super Micro is understandably frustrated as they have been provided no means of narrowing the search. To date, Bloomberg has not provided a single motherboard that has been modified in the way they claimed. Beyond Bloomberg, no one else has been able to produce such a board. It makes sense that other investigative news outlets are searching. So far, nothing has been turned up.
While not denying that such a breach is impossible, Super Micro is adamant that such a chip being inserted into their boards is highly implausible. These are extremely complicated boards with an equally complicated and well-monitored manufacturing process.
The filing goes on to speak of the supply chain aspect. Super Micro uses a segmented process where no single part of the supply chain has the entire picture. It would be difficult to implement this type of exploit without the whole picture.
The Bloomberg piece claims that government intelligence has been a part of the process. But all parties, Apple, Amazon, and now Super Micro have specifically denied having any communication with government agents regarding this matter. Various government agencies have also denied any knowledge of any such breach.