Super Micro Hardware Backdoors

Today, Bloomberg published an article claiming that at least some Super Micro motherboards contained hardware backdoors. While we don’t have any inside information, we’ve been fielding several calls from clients about actions they should take and wanted to expand our thoughts on this outside our existing customer base.

To begin, it’s important to note that the story is only confirmed by anonymous sources. But many other stories attributed to only anonymous sources turned out to be true as well. Sure, Amazon and Apple have both denied the story. But lots of organizations denied they had ever heard of PRISM when that story broke. Those denials did not age well and these may not either.

At the end of the day, we at Rendition Infosec can’t speak to whether Super Micro servers have hardware backdoors. What we can say is that we must architect our networks in a way that allows them to survive even a hardware based attack on a single piece of infrastructure.

That belief isn’t new either. In January, Rendition Infosec published an action plan for dealing with Meltdown and Spectre. It’s been a heck of a year so far, but as I reread the action plan today, I’m proud of how well it has aged. That post closes with the statement:

Even if you feel like you dodged this bullet, spend some time today thinking about how your organization will handle the next “big one.” I think we all know it’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when and how bad.”

Always good to see infosec advice that ages well, especially when it spans multiple topic areas. If you have good, defensible architecture, you don’t need “unicorn” security solutions.