Last year, Amazon decided to build a new data center in the United Kingdom. The data center was located in Ebberston, near York, and required an array of Supermicro hardware to function at peak performance. This hardware consists of motherboards and related components from Dell, Cray Systems, and as a part of Cevo Networks.
A few months later it was discovered that some of these Supermicro parts were being used for installing malicious firmware on their own gear without the knowledge or consent of their owners. As Amazon moved quickly to replace them with other components, this story became known throughout the Internet as “the Supermicro hack. “
The leading cause of this incident was that these Supermicro motherboards were used for installing malware on them, which was not complicated at all. But although it lacked the necessary technology to protect its hardware, Amazon denied any possible malware. According to a statement issued by the company: “We have found no evidence of malicious hardware on our systems.”
Amazon also pointed out that Supermicro had not been aware of any unauthorized code or hardware in their motherboards when they were delivered to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The company also admitted that all of this hardware was used by employees.
In addition, Amazon has confirmed that there were no cases of hardware modifications or malicious hardware on Amazon’s systems. And it also said it had done everything to ensure the security of the data centers in which its Supermicro units were installed.
As for the investigation of the incident that occurred on AWS, the company said it was “actively involved” and did not provide further details. But it promised to give an update soon, regardless of whether or not they require additional information from AWS or its suppliers. So far, there has been no official explanation regarding Amazon’s statement regarding its system being protected from malware.
A few minutes after Amazon’s statement was issued, Supermicro shares fell by more than 5 percent. These stocks lost 15% of their value, reaching 34% in the last three days.
On the other hand, Apple’s shares also fell by more than 1 percent. It is because a significant amount of Supermicro hardware installed in Apple’s data centers was also mentioned during this incident. Moreover, Apple denied that their equipment had any malware or suspicious hardware when it was delivered to them or installed in their data center. And finally, Amazon and Supermicro have ended all business with each other for now.
The investigation of the Supermicro hack is still ongoing. Although it has ended all business with Supermicro and removed all of its equipment from its data center, Amazon admitted that some of the gear installed on its systems was malicious. Still, it claimed this was not a widespread issue. So far, it has not released any details about what happened in AWS.
Amazon has not issued any statement on whether it will replace the Supermicro hardware, and Apple has not made any decision regarding the status of those specific motherboards in their data centers. However, the fact that all of this hardware was used by Amazon’s employees to install malware without their knowledge is a severe issue for both companies. This case is still considered an “important public security matter.”
This incident is another example of massive corporations using hacked hardware from other companies as part of their infrastructure without telling them. Although Amazon and Supermicro have denied any issues with hardware, this is possibly not the case for Apple. After all, it is impossible to know whether or not Apple’s Supermicro motherboards were modified or what was done to them when they were installed.