The Whole World In A Grain Of Rice

The opening lines of Auguries of Innocence by William Blake read as follows.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

The connection with ‘a grain of sand’ in Blake’s poem is a bit of a stretch. But the very smallness of a grain of anything brought to mind how Bloomberg published an article on October 4th. In it they claim that the Chinese government snuck a chip the size of a grain of rice onto the motherboards of servers built by the company Super Micro.

The ‘infected’ motherboards were sent to foreign customers including 30 US companies, some of which had US government contracts. The report refers to a major bank (not named) and to Apple and Amazon as being unwitting recipients of the boards.

Apple and Amazon have denied it. Bloomberg is a reputable news source. You would think they would not be given to make up a story ‘whole cloth’ as it were, without any evidence at all. So what is the truth of it?

Then, on 30th October Bloomberg published a short article in which it reported that Super Micro had said they had found no malicious software in its products.

It also reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had said it has “no reason to doubt” Amazon and Apple’s denials of Bloomberg’s reporting.

So why do I feel that this story of auguries of innocence has a long way to run? Perhaps it will take years for the story to unfold.

Auguries of Innocence

The word ‘augur’, as you probably very well know, is an omen of what is to come. It can be for good or for bad. The poem Auguries of Innocence by William Blake, describes how the cruelties of man done against the animal life of the world does not augur well for human beings.

Update October 2020

On October 9, 2018, Bloomberg issued a second report, alleging that Supermicro-manufactured datacenter servers of a U.S. telecom firm had been compromised by a hardware implant on an Ethernet connector. The report cited Yossi Appleboum, former Israel intelligence officer and co founder of cyber security company Sepio Systems. He was said to have documented implants on various companies’ boards. How widespread is the problem, if it exists at all?