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Thursday, 19 September 2019 07:55

Bloomberg reporter who wrote Supermicro supply chain yarn promoted

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Bloomberg reporter who wrote Supermicro supply chain yarn promoted Image by Fuzzy Mannerz from Pixabay

The American news agency Bloomberg has promoted one of the two journalists who wrote a story last year claiming that claiming that Chinese spies had corrupted the tech supply chain and installed small chips on motherboards which were supplied to the American company, Supermicro Computer. The story has been met with a storm of denial since it was published nearly a year ago, but has not been either corrected or retracted.

Bloomberg's promotion of Michael Riley was revealed by the Washington Post's media writer Erik Wemple on Tuesday; he noted that Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait had announced that Riley would become the news outlet's cyber security chief.

The other byline on the discredited story was that of one Jordan Robertson. The cyber security team at Bloomberg has been tasked to “write about the various attempts to hack companies, governments and elections, as well as the thriving marketplace for cyber security tools, both legal and otherwise".

The Supermicro story, published on 4 October 2018, named Apple, Amazon, the US Department of Defence and data processors for the CIA as being among those who had been using servers with these chips, which had been destroyed after being discovered.

There were strong denials from Apple and Amazon; the tale was also contradicted by the US Department of Homeland Security and the British National Cyber Security Centre.

Additionally, a senior Apple security official took the unusual step of writing to the US Congress directly saying there was no evidence to back Bloomberg's claims, while a former general counsel of the company said he had asked the FBI about the charges and been told that the agency knew nothing about it.

Despite this being a major story, no other outlet followed up on it, apparently being unable to corroborate anything that was claimed.

The Post reported in November last year that another Bloomberg reporter, Ben Elgin, had been calling Apple and seeking discreet information about what his own colleagues had reported.

Elgin wrote to one employee at Apple on 19 November, saying, "My colleagues’ story from last month (Super Micro) has sparked a lot of pushback. I’ve been asked to join the research effort here to do more digging on this … and I would value hearing your thoughts (whatever they may be) and guidance, as I get my bearings.”

Nothing has yet emerged in public as a result of Elgin's reported investigations.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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