Apple Cut Ties With Supplier Super Micro Computer Over Server Security Concerns

by

Apple cut ties with server supplier Super Micro Computer in 2016 after unearthing a potential security vulnerability in at least one of its data center servers, reports The Information.

The vulnerability in the server, which was part of Apple's technical infrastructure powering its web-based services, was discovered in the early months of 2016. According to Super Micro senior vice president of technology Tau Leng, Apple ended its business relationship with Super Micro Computer shortly after uncovering the security issue.


Leng's account of the incident makes it sound like Apple received bad firmware from an FTP site hosted by Super Micro that may have been infiltrated, which may have compromised the server.

According to Leng, when Apple was asked to provide the version number of the firmware it had downloaded after experiencing issues, Apple provided an invalid number. After that, Apple refused to provide more information to Super Micro.

Mr. Leng said Super Micro regularly provides firmware updates that data center customers like Apple can download from a private "FTP" site, hosted by Super Micro. He said the firmware updates come from outside chip manufacturers--in this case, a networking chip maker that he declined to name.

Sources who spoke to The Information said servers that handled Siri requests and App Store search functionality may have been compromised, but an Apple spokesperson said Apple did not receive bad firmware nor was any customer data stolen.

"Apple is deeply committed to protecting the privacy and security of our customers and the data we store," the spokesperson told The Information. "We are constantly monitoring for any attacks on our systems, working closely with vendors and regularly checking equipment for malware."

It's not quite clear what caused the vulnerability that led to the end of the agreement between Super Micro and Apple, but Apple has since moved on to other server suppliers, increasing orders from ZT and purchasing servers from Inspur.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
43 months ago
Funny to think Apple once made their own servers.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
43 months ago

problem was that they weren't using SFTP to start with.

No, we don't know that. We are reading hearsay from the fired vendor and the word FTP is in quotation marks, so it possibly could have been SFTP.

SFTP doesn't guarantee that the downloads are clean or that the download server is safe, only that the download connection itself is secure.

Furthermore, both Supermicro and Apple contradict each other. Either someone is not telling the full truth or possibly both are not telling the complete truth. There's really no way to ascertain what happened from this article and we may never will.

The only real takeaway from this article is that Apple no longer sources server hardware from Supermicro. The rest of the words you can flush down the toilet.

My guess is that Mr. Leng is violating a confidentiality clause by discussing this with the media. If that is the case, it is likely that SuperMicro will never do business with Apple Inc. again as long as Tim Cook is in charge.

SuperMicro just burnt a bridge. Too bad for them.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
43 months ago
Terror of dependency. Good play, Apple.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
43 months ago
problem was that they weren't using SFTP to start with.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
43 months ago
So maybe your iPhone is encrypted & secure... but apple's server farms are made by third parties and that's where the vulnerability lies. Dont get to cozy with iCloud.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
43 months ago
Well apple, its time to make your own servers again :)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

'This App is No Longer Shared' iOS Bug Preventing Some Apps From Opening

Friday May 22, 2020 3:58 pm PDT by
An app bug is causing some iOS users to be unable to open their apps, with affected iPhone and iPad users seeing the message "This app is no longer shared with you" when attempting to access an app. There are multiple complaints about the issue on the MacRumors forums and on Twitter from users who are running into problems. A MacRumors reader describes the issue:Is anyone else experiencing...

Apple Memorial Day Deals: Shop the Best Apple Accessory Sales From Twelve South, eBay, Anker, Mophie, and More

Friday May 22, 2020 6:39 am PDT by
We're now just a few days away from Memorial Day on Monday, May 25, and numerous retailers have opened up discounts in celebration of the holiday. This includes sales on helpful Apple-related accessories like Anker's portable batteries, Beats headphones at eBay, Incase and Incipio's protective iPad and iPhone cases, Mophie's iPhone battery cases, JBL's Bluetooth speakers, and much more. Note:...

Former iOS Chief Scott Forstall Shares Intriguing Story of His Interview With Steve Jobs at NeXT

Friday May 22, 2020 4:01 am PDT by
Former Apple executive and iOS chief Scott Forstall made a rare public appearance this week at Code.org's virtual Code Break event, and in between classes, Forstall shared the intriguing story of how he was hired by Steve Jobs. Forstall revealed that he had been considering working at Microsoft when he went to interview at NexT, the company started by Jobs after he had left Apple. Forstall...

'Apple Glass' Rumored to Start at $499, Support Prescription Lenses, and More

Tuesday May 19, 2020 6:30 am PDT by
Front Page Tech host and leaker Jon Prosser today shared several alleged details about Apple's rumored augmented reality glasses, including an "Apple Glass" marketing name, $499 starting price, prescription lens option, and more. The marketing name will be "Apple Glass" The glasses will start at $499 with the option for prescription lenses at an extra cost There will be displays in both...

Apple's 'Bounce' AirPods Ad Wins 'Best of Advertising' Award

Friday May 22, 2020 10:09 am PDT by
Apple's creative "Bounce" ad designed to highlight the AirPods took top honors in the 99th annual ADC (Art Director's Club) awards for advertising, earning the "Best of Discipline" award along with two Gold Cube awards in the craft in video and branded content categories. Released in June 2019, the ad features a bored man who pulls his AirPods off of their wireless charging pad and then pops ...

Apple's 'AirPods Studio' Over-Ear Headphones Have Reportedly Kicked Off Production

Friday May 22, 2020 7:03 am PDT by
We've been hearing quite a bit recently about Apple's long-rumored over-ear headphones, said to be called "AirPods Studio," and it looks like a launch may be coming in the relatively near future. Artist mockup based on Beats Studio3 Rumors have generally suggested a summer or fall launch for AirPods Studio, with a report earlier this week claiming that suppliers in Vietnam will begin...

Top Stories: Apple Glass and iPhone 12 Rumors, iOS 13.5 Update, and More!

Saturday May 23, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
It was another big week for rumors this week, with a flurry of reports about Apple's augmented reality glasses, the iPhone 12, and Apple's "AirPods Studio" over-ear headphones. This week also saw the release of iOS 13.5, bringing a number of health-related updates to Apple's mobile devices. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Other topics of interest this week included ...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 13.5 With Exposure Notification API, Face ID Mask Updates, Group FaceTime Changes and More

Wednesday May 20, 2020 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.5, major updates that come more than a month after the launch of iOS and iPadOS 13.4.1. iOS 13.5 is a major health-related update that brings many features related to the ongoing public health crisis. The iOS and ‌‌iPadOS‌‌ 13.5 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings...

Jon Prosser Claims Apple is Working on 'Steve Jobs Heritage Edition' AR Glasses, Gurman Calls Rumor 'Complete Fiction'

Thursday May 21, 2020 4:50 pm PDT by
Apple is working on a limited-edition version of its augmented reality smart glasses that's designed to look like the round, frameless glasses that Steve Jobs was famous for wearing, according to Jon Prosser. Prosser, who runs YouTube show Front Page Tech and who has been sharing a flood of Apple rumors in recent weeks, mentioned the detail in Cult of Mac's latest Cultcast podcast....

T-Mobile and Sprint Offering Free iPhone SE With Trade-In

Thursday May 21, 2020 1:14 pm PDT by
T-Mobile is launching a Memorial Day promotion that will see the company offering a free iPhone SE to customers who trade in an eligible older smartphone in good condition. From Friday to Monday, customers who trade in an existing smartphone can get a free iPhone SE (sales tax still needs to be paid) or up to $500 off a Samsung Galaxy S20. The free iPhone SE will be provided in the form...