Report: Apple designing its own servers to avoid snooping

“Apple has begun designing its own servers partly because of suspicions that hardware is being intercepted before it gets delivered to Apple, according to a report yesterday from The Information,” Jon Brodkin reports for Ars Technica.

Brodkin reports, “‘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, according to a person familiar with the matter,’ the report said. ‘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 unauthorized snooping via extra chips.'”

“As we’ve previously reported, the National Security Agency is known to intercept and modify equipment before it reaches the hands of its intended customers,” Brodkin reports.

Read more in the full article here.


Apple’s move to bring iCloud infrastructure in-house predicated by backdoor fears – March 23, 2016
Inside ‘Project McQueen,’ Apple’s plan to build its own cloud – March 18, 2016
Apple’s deal with Google for cloud services may not last – March 17, 2016
Apple signs on with Google Cloud Platform, cuts spending with Amazon Web Services – March 17, 2016



    Maybe now Apple will redo the Mac Pro so users can plug in mini-blades to make their own super-cluster.

    Come on, APPLE, there is a segment out there longing for another Mac Pro option that includes a retro-designed box about 1/3 the size of the old one where we can drop the side to open the box up allowing for the addition of more drives, cards and CPUs.

    1. Sounds like a great idea to me. Unlock the power of OS X/ UNIX! Thanks for offering reasonable solutions and not just griping.

      Using that approach Apple would provide users with a highly scalable machine that would work as a powerful personal workstation or a powerful networked server.

  2. Just bring back the Xserve. I know I miss it, we used to use them and had to replace our ’08 units with newer hardware recently. It would’ve been great to just plug in brand new Xserve hardware.

      1. Well it’s between Apple and nsa, both American. I’d say that could be a civil war of sorts. But I get sick of every kerfuffle being called a war. The nsa, cia or fbi has to standing or right to pull crap like that. The administers should be arrested for theft.

  3. Whether these mysterious people are modifying hardware or not, it’s no bad thing for Apple to let it be known that they are not going to allow it to happen. The implication being that other companies are either willingly or unwillingly having their data snooped.

    Apple is the company that takes your security seriously.

  4. I wish apple would just make a good looking box with slots.

    Just ship it with your custom motherboards if you want, just let those in the know put everything else in third party.

  5. What am I missing? Why would Apple designed server hardware be any less vulnerable than HP or Dell server hardware to a third party hijacking the servers during shipment? If their manufacturing base for these servers remains in China they’re still vulnerable either at time of assembly or during shipment.

    This is absolutely an area of vital concern. But I don’t see Apple designed hardware being the solution.

    1. I would think that they would hope they have a bit more control over the factories they make their own hardware in. If they’re designing the thing they will know 100% what every single bit of that machine does and where it should have come from, they will also have staff in those factories. Nothing is 100%, but if they’re being designed, manufactured and transported 100% outside of Apple’s purview then that has to be a much larger risk.

    2. How do you know they would be made in China? Apple builds Mac pro computers in the US.

      The number of servers that they would need is relatively small compared to a production run of Macs, so they could use local or even in-house manufacturing facilities.

      Furthermore if they design it in house and in the knowledge that there might be some ‘tampering’ going on, they could build it in such a way that any monkey business is likely to be detected.

  6. By the way – I have found it IMPOSSIBLE to comment from the MacDailyNews app on my iPhone 5 for several weeks. The focus (what box the cursor is in for adding text) won’t stay in the comment field – it keeps jumping to the Name or Email fields. I am currently running iOS 9.3 – (which itself appears to need tweaking for the iPhone 5 – it will freeze for a minute at a time while trying to use it ever since upgrading to 9.3), but the app showed this behavior before the iOS upgrade. It is extremely frustrating.

  7. Apple if not the would could use a modern xserve. Use mac mini style blade server boards, use ssd storage and the fastest networking technologies available. Use the most current apple server os that plays nice with red hat and ms server 20xx. Heck, i want one!

  8. Just make sure those servers are built by and end up somewhere on the free and civilized world and it should be snoop free, well at least until someone whines to the UN “Whaaaaaaaaaaah they have WMD (Weird Mainframe Devices) that we can’t break into, here’s a photo, and we ask you to vote to allow us to declare war and invade, unless of course you decide to vote or veto against us, in that case we’ll just walk away from democracy and invade anyway. We’ve already circumvented the Geneva convention so when it comes to torture, it’s mission accomplished.”

    Yup that’s the way of the world today. We know who’s responsible and who isn’t.

  9. I have been told by someone who is in a direct position to know this that virtually all computers purchased for the US government come with Chinese-installed rootkits pre-embedded. One can only assume that the same is true as far as industrial sabotage goes, too.

  10. Apple has long suspected that servers it ordered from the traditional supply chain were intercepted during shipping

    Very likely, sad to say. This isn’t going to please the government surveillance maniacal. Watch them stamp their big feet in protest.

  11. Ed Snowden is a hero and was the canary in the coal mine for average Americans- exactly why Hawks like Hillary would like to see him roasted on a spit. The technology to enable a totalitarian state enforced with monitoring of every citizen is here today, so it is paramount for citizens to be vigilant.

    All but one Presidential Candidate has no problem with the 24/7/365 National Security-Surveillance State. That would not be the Harverd Trained Lawyer, the former Secretary of State, the former Wall Street Banker of the Lucky Sperm Club Developer/Reality Show Host. It would be the Senator from Vermont that voted against invading Iraq, against the Orwellian USA Patriot Act and has stood for accountability of the Federal Reserve and putting a leash on the Military-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned Americans about years ago.

    It is an election year people. Educate yourselves regarding how your Senators and Representative are voting. Same for the various people running for President. Voting is a responsibility- not a right. Vote based upon information- not bumper sticker talking points.

    The hour is late.

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