Apple May Be Worried a Secret Security Threat Lurks in Its Servers

March 24, 2016, 6:05 PM UTC
Apple CEO Tim Cook Announces the Apple iPhone 4s
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks about new features of the iCloud service during an event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011. Apple Inc., in its first product unveiling since Steve Jobs resigned as chief executive officer, introduced a faster iPhone with voice features and a higher-resolution camera to help it vie with Google Inc.'s Android. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Apple reportedly has concerns that the servers it buys may be infiltrated with spy tech.

According to an unnamed source familiar with the matter, cited by news site The Information, the company “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.”

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment.

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This kind of supply chain vulnerability is not unique to Apple (AAPL). It could affect any company that sources its infrastructure from a third party. But Apple’s handling of the potential security hole reflects the company’s deeply ingrained reverence for cybersecurity.

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“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,” The Information reports. “Building its own servers with motherboards it designed would be the most surefire way for Apple to prevent unauthorized snooping via extra chips.”

Apple has reportedly begun working on an internal plan called “Project McQueen” to design and develop its own fully functional cloud infrastructure, Recode reported last week.

Until then, Apple must rely on machines from rivals such as IBM (IBM), Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and EMC (EMC), and server farms from Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), and Microsoft (MSFT), for support.

Apple’s commitment to privacy and internal security was recently put in the spotlight by the company’s legal skirmish with the FBI where it refused to unlock an iPhone used by a terrorist.

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