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October 2018

According to the Bloomberg report, in 2015, Amazon evaluated a startup, Elemental Technologies, as a potential acquisition for their streaming video service. Elemental made software for compressing massive video files and formatting them for different devices. Its technology helped stream the Olympic Games online, communicate with the International Space Station, and funnel drone footage to the Central Intelligence Agency. Amazon Web Services, AWS, hired a third-party to scrutinize Elemental’s security controls. The 3rd party discovered that the servers customers installed in AWS’ networks to handle the video compression were assembled by Super Micro Computer, a San Jose CA company that also supplied the server motherboards. Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design.  Investigators reportedly determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines.