Apple suspects server tampering during shipping

24 March 2016
By Jack Loughran
Mobile version
Share |
The NSA may have played a part in loading spy software onto hard drives last year

The NSA may have played a part in loading spy software onto hard drives last year

Apple is concerned that third parties are intercepting the hardware it uses for its servers during shipping and adding additional chips and firmware in order to spy on the data they store, according to a report from The Information.

Apple is reportedly building its own cloud infrastructure called Project McQueen, which includes servers and networking equipment, partly because of these security concerns states The Information (paywall). 

The technology giant is also looking to move its cloud services in the interim from Amazon Web Services to Google’s Cloud Platform. The shift will see Google running much of Apple’s iCloud services in a deal worth between $400m (£283m) and $600m.

But the move could be merely a stopgap for Apple while it builds its own systems and networking architecture so that it can take full control over these services.

“At least part of the driver for this is to ensure that the servers are secure,” The Information claims.

“Apple has long suspected that servers it ordered from the traditional supply chain were intercepted during shipping, with additional chips and firmware added to them by unknown third parties in order to make them vulnerable to infiltration.

“At one point, Apple even assigned people to take photographs of motherboards and annotate the function of each chip, explaining why it was supposed to be there. Building its own servers with motherboards it designed would be the most surefire way for Apple to prevent unauthorised snooping via extra chips.”

Last year, the Moscow-based cyber-security company Kaspersky indicated that it had discovered spying software that lay deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers that would allow its creator to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers undetected.

Although the security lab declined to publicly name the country behind the software, it indicated that it was closely linked to Stuxnet, the NSA-led cyber-weapon, pointing the finger at the US intelligence-gathering agency.

NSA’s involvement in infiltrating Apple’s hardware is unproven, although carrying out such an endeavour without backing from a significant body, such as a nation state, would prove extremely difficult.

Apple’s stance on privacy has become a major legal issue in recent months as it battles the FBI in court over its refusal to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters involved in the December 2015 San Bernardino massacre.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Design Delivery Leader, Palace of Westminster Restoration & Renewal (R&R) - Engineering Lead

    House of Commons
    • City of Westminster, London (Greater)
    • Circa £65,000 (There may be more for an exceptional candidate)

    You will lead on a number of engineering infrastructure and associated workstreams under direction from the Deputy Director

    • Recruiter: House of Commons

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Engineer, Network Equipment

    Energy Networks Association
    • Westminster
    • £49-58k per annum, dependent on experience

    Manage issues and working groups relating to all types of equipment and assets used on the UK Transmission and Distribution Networks.

    • Recruiter: Energy Networks Association

    Apply for this job

  • Programme Manager, Network Resilience

    Energy Networks Association
    • Westminster
    • Competitive salary, dependent on experience

    Co-ordinate the network resilience, emergency planning and the Single Electricity Number (SEN) work in the ENA Engineering team.

    • Recruiter: Energy Networks Association

    Apply for this job

  • Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Smart Building Solutions

    Premium job

    ETH Zurich
    • Zurich, Canton of Zürich (CH)

    The successful candidate is expected to develop a strong and visible research programme in the area of control and diagnostics of building systems

    • Recruiter: ETH Zurich

    Apply for this job

  • Process Controls Leader

    Premium job

    Phillips 66
    • Humber Refinery, South Killingholme, North Lincolnshire DN40 3DW
    • £60k - 75k plus extensive Compensation and benefits package, dependent upon experience

    Experienced Process Control Leader providing leadership and technical support for Oil Refinery. Extensive Compensation and benefits package.

    • Recruiter: Phillips 66

    Apply for this job

  • Regional Technical Support Manager

    Premium job

    Siemens
    • Warwick, Warwickshire

    You will be required to lead the regional Customer Services strategy and resources to maximise Customer satisfaction.

    • Recruiter: Siemens

    Apply for this job

  • Digital Forensic Specialist (Audio)

    Met Police
    • London
    • Circa £37,305 plus £3,406 location allowance

    You’ll contribute to a wide range of research and development activities.

    • Recruiter: Met Police

    Apply for this job

  • Marine Engineering Technician (Electrical)

    Port of London Authority
    • Gravesend, Kent
    • £34,318 per annum (inclusive of allowances)

    The successful candidate will be responsible for undertaking maintenance of machinery and hull systems in a fleet of small commercial craft

    • Recruiter: Port of London Authority

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Systems Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • Weymouth, England, Dorset / Frimley, England, Surrey
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to be involved in designing, developing, and delivering cutting edge combat systems for the world's most advanced military submarines? BAE Systems is recruiting Principal Systems Engineers

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Communications Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Hampshire, Portsmouth
    • Negotiable

    Communications Engineer Would you like to play a key role supporting the UK's Maritime Communications Infrastructure? We currently have a vacancy for a Communications Engineer at our site in Portsmouth. As a Communications Engineer, you will be carrying o

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T