FBI director on whether Apple and Amazon servers had Chinese spy chips: 'Be careful what you read'

  • FBI Director Christopher Wray appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday.
  • Wray urged caution when asked about a recent story suggesting that spy chips had been embedded in servers that Super Micro sold to Apple and Amazon.
FBI Director Christopher Wray discusseses the findings of the Inspector General's report on the FBI's handling of a probe into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, during a news conference in Washington, U.S., June 14, 2018.
Yuri Gripas | Reuters
FBI Director Christopher Wray discusseses the findings of the Inspector General's report on the FBI's handling of a probe into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, during a news conference in Washington, U.S., June 14, 2018.

During a hearing in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray told senators to "be careful what you read," when asked about a recent story involving spy chips from China being secretly embedded into servers owned by Apple, Amazon and other big companies.

Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the committee, asked Wray when his agency found out about the chips that server manufacturer Super Micro implanted into server hardware, as reported last week by Bloomberg Businessweek.

"I would say to the newspaper article or, I mean, the magazine article, I would say be careful what you read," Wray replied. "Especially in this context."

Johnson called on Wray to speak to the accuracy of the story, telling the FBI director that, "We don't want false information out there."

Wray said he couldn't offer much detail because the agency has a policy of not confirming or denying that an investigation is underway.

"I do want to be careful that my comment not be construed as inferring or implying, I should say, that there is an investigation," Wray said. "We take very seriously our obligation to notify victims when they've been targeted."

Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, also provided little by way of commentary on the report.

"With respect to the article, we at DHS do not have any evidence that supports the article," Nielsen said. "We have no reason to doubt what the companies have said. We continue to look into it. What I can tell you though is it is a very real and emerging threat that we are very concerned about. So we are working very closely with the private sector, within our federal family, and certainly to put our own house in order to make sure that we are locking down every step of that supply chain."

Apple said, following the story's publication, that it has "never found malicious chips in [its] servers" and that it is "not under any kind of gag order or other confidentiality obligations" to keep any sort of investigation quiet.

"We stand by our story and are confident in our reporting and sources," Bloomberg told CNBC earlier this week.

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