Servers from Supermicro, which are regarded as the Chinese government’s spy servers, are in wide use in South Korean financial institutions, large corporations and state-run research institutes, including the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). As such, concerns are growing over tech leaks.
The users include companies like Samsung, SK, LG, KT and POSCO and colleges, financial institutions, government agencies and web hosting service providers as well as the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST).
Supermicro was established by a Chinese American in San Jose and the company is currently manufacturing servers and storages in China. According to market research firm IDC, the company accounts for 10% of the global data center server market.
The Chinese government’s spy chips have reportedly been mounted for years on the motherboards of Supermicro servers. Bloomberg recently reported that microchips for a spying purpose were found in the data center servers of 30 or so American corporations and organizations, including Apple, Amazon Web Services and the U.S. Department of Defense and the chips have been used for collecting intellectual property rights and trade secrets. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning on October 4.
The possibility of confidential data leakage from South Korea to China cannot be ruled out, either. “Not only network equipment but also servers, which are the core of IT infrastructure, have backdoors for remote repair and maintenance,” said professor Yim Jong-in at the Graduate School of Information Security of Korea University, adding, “It is irresponsible for large corporations, which have social responsibilities, to adopt Chinese equipment simply for lower prices.”