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Apple, Amazon deny Chinese ‘spy’ chips into their network

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San Francisco, Oct 5: Apple and Amazon have strongly denied a media report that claimed a massive “supply chain attack” by Chinese spies planted chips in motherboards in data servers bought by these two giants among 30 tech companies.

Bloomberg Businessweek on Thursday reported that malicious chips — as small as a sharpened pencil tip — were planted by a unit of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to gain access to the supply chain of a firm called Super Micro, known as the “Microsoft of the hardware world”.

According to the report, Apple discovered suspicious chips in its servers in 2015.

The Cupertino-based iPhone maker replied it has never found malicious chips, “hardware manipulations” or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server.

“The October 8, 2018 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek incorrectly reports that Apple found “malicious chips” in servers on its network in 2015. As Apple has repeatedly explained to Bloomberg reporters and editors over the past 12 months, there is no truth to these claims,” Apple said in a statement.

“Over the course of the past year, Bloomberg has contacted us multiple times with claims, sometimes vague and sometimes elaborate, of an alleged security incident at Apple.

“Each time, we have conducted rigorous internal investigations based on their inquiries and each time we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them,” Apple said.

“Apple never had any contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or any other agency about such an incident. We are not aware of any investigation by the FBI, nor are our contacts in law enforcement,” the tech giant added.

According to Apple, its digital assistant Siri and social search and analytics company Topsy never shared servers.

“Siri has never been deployed on servers sold to us by Super Micro; and Topsy data was limited to approximately 2,000 Super Micro servers, not 7,000. None of those servers have ever been found to hold malicious chips,” said Apple.

According to Apple, its best guess is that “they are confusing their story with a previously-reported 2016 incident in which we discovered an infected driver on a single Super Micro server in one of our labs”.

According to Steve Schmidt, Chief Information Security Officer at Amazon Web Services (AWS) which is Amazon’s Cloud arm, “there are so many inaccuracies in “this article as it relates to Amazon that they are hard to count”.

“Amazon employs stringent security standards across our supply chain – investigating all hardware and software prior to going into production and performing regular security audits internally and with our supply chain partners,” Schmidt said in a statement.

“We further strengthen our security posture by implementing our own hardware designs for critical components such as processors, servers, storage systems, and networking equipment,” he added.

IANS

Business

Airtel narrowing gap with Jio on 4G in India: Report

While Jio won in 48 cities outright it drew for the first place with Airtel in Coimbatore.

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New Delhi: Airtel has come closer to challenging Reliance Jio which continues to reign supreme on 4G availability and 4G coverage experience in India, says a new report by mobile analytics company Opensignal.

While the average proportion of time that Jio users spent connected to 4G has increased by 0.5 of a percentage point since the last report to reach an impressive 98.7 per cent, Airtel saw its score increase by 1.1 percentage points.

“As a consequence, Jio’s lead has dropped from 3.7 percentage points to 3.1,” said the report.

In regional analysis of 49 cities, Airtel came close to challenging Jio’s dominance on 4G availability in a majority of the cities although Jio continued to win almost all awards, said the report.

While Jio won in 48 cities outright it drew for the first place with Airtel in Coimbatore.

However, for the second report in a row, Airtel has won four of the awards outright — video experience, games experience, voice app experience and download Speed experience, while ownership of the upload speed experience award smoothly passed from Vodafone to Vi.

This is the first report in which Opensignal treated Vodafone and Idea as a single operator — Vi — in line with the combined operator’s new branding that was announced on September 7.

For the report, Opensignal examined the mobile network experience of the four main mobile network operators in India: Airtel, BSNL, Jio and Vi, over a period of 90 days beginning May 1 to see how they fared, and further delved deeper into 49 of India’s largest cities, comparing the experience users received on these four operators.

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Business

Paytm Dares Google, Brings Back Cricket League With UPI Cashback

Paytm said that the cashback was being given following all rules and regulations set by the government.

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New Delhi: Home-grown financial services platform Paytm, which was briefly removed from Google Play Store for alleged policy violations earlier this month, said on Monday that it has brought back the Paytm Cricket League with UPI cashback and scratch cards.

Now, users can collect stickers of their favourite cricket stars as they pay digitally for their mobile bills, recharges, buying groceries or money transfers, Paytm said.

Once they complete a set, they can redeem it for cashback up to Rs 1,000, it added.

Every sticker collected by the user is automatically added to the cricket album. There are three different milestones to be achieved for getting cashback — 11 unique cricket players, 11 unique bowlers or 11 unique batsmen.

Whenever a milestone is achieved, the users get a scratch card with an assured cashback.

“We are excited to bring Paytm Cricket League back on our app to reward users with UPI cashback on reaching various milestones, accomplished by collecting player stickers,” a Paytm spokesperson said in a statement.

Earlier, Paytm in a blog post stated that Google mandated it to remove the UPI cashback and scratch cards campaign to get re-listed on the Android Play Store even though offering both is legal in India.

Paytm said that the cashback was being given following all rules and regulations set by the government.

The company alleged that it was “arm-twisted” by the search engine major to comply with what it called “biased Play Store policies that are meant to artificially create Google’s market dominance.”

Later, the Paytm app was restored on the Play Store after a gap of a few hours.

“We maintain that our promotional campaign was within guidelines and there was no violation. We believe that such arbitrary actions and accusatory labelling go against the laws of our country and acceptable norms of fair competition by arbitrarily depriving our users of innovative services,” the Paytm spokesperson said.

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Business

Vodafone Wins Arbitration Against India In Rs 20K Cr Retrospective Tax Dispute Case

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New Delhi: Vodafone has won the case against India over a retrospective tax demand of more than Rs 20,000 crore.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague has ruled that the conduct of India’s tax department is in breach of “fair and equitable” treatment.

Voafone had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2016 due to a lack of consensus between the parties’ arbitrators in finalising a judge for the tax dispute.

Following this, a tribunal was constituted in June 2016 after Vodafone challenged India’s use of a 2012 legislation that gave it powers to retrospectively tax deals like Vodafone’s $11 billion acquisition of a 67 per cent stake in Hutchison Whampoa in 2007. The retrospective tax law had been enacted after the Supreme Court judgement went in Vodafone’s favour.

Vodafone had challenged the tax department’s demand of Rs 7,990 crore as capital gains taxes (Rs 22,100 crore after including interest and penalty) under the Netherlands-India Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).

Buoyed by the arbitration award, Vodafone Idea stock closed 12 per cent higher at Rs 10.20.

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