In 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense found thousands of its computer servers sending military network data to China — the result of code hidden in chips that handled the machines’ startup process.
In 2014, Intel Corp. discovered that an elite Chinese hacking group breached its network through a single server that downloaded malware from a supplier’s update site.
And in 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned multiple companies that Chinese operatives had concealed an extra chip loaded with backdoor code in one manufacturer’s servers.
Each of these distinct attacks had two things in common: China and Super Micro Computer Inc., a computer hardware maker in San Jose, California. They shared one other trait; U.S. spymasters discovered the manipulations but kept them largely secret as they tried to counter each one and learn more about China’s capabilities.