Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls on Bloomberg to Retract Supply Chain Hack Story: 'There's No Truth to This'

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For the first time since Bloomberg published a highly controversial story suggesting Chinese spies planted microchips in Supermicro server motherboards Apple used in its iCloud facilities, Apple CEO Tim Cook has gone on the record to vehemently deny the claims.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Cook said there is "no truth" to the story about Apple, before making the unprecedented move of calling on Bloomberg to publish a retraction.


Since the report went live earlier this month, Apple has refuted Bloomberg's claims in multiple clearly worded statements denying such an incident ever took place. Apple maintains that the story is "completely untrue," malicious chips were never found in its servers, and there was never an FBI investigation into the incident.

Bloomberg has continued to stand by its original report, which, based on info obtained from 17 unnamed sources, said that Apple, Amazon, and other tech companies had purchased and installed Supermicro servers that had been tampered with by the Chinese government. Small chips were allegedly implanted into server motherboards, allowing China to access corporate secrets and other information.

Apple did have an issue with Supermicro servers that led to the company dropping Supermicro as a supplier, but the relationship ended after malware was discovered on a single server in an incident unrelated to Bloomberg's claims.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, though he only spoke out publicly about the Bloomberg story this week, he's been involved in Apple's response "from the beginning."
"I personally talked to the Bloomberg reporters along with Bruce Sewell who was then our general counsel. We were very clear with them that this did not happen, and answered all their questions," said Cook. "Each time they brought this up to us, the story changed and each time we investigated we found nothing."
Cook went on to say that Bloomberg failed to provide Apple with specific details about the malicious chips the company supposedly found and removed, and that Bloomberg's claims are based on "vague secondhand accounts." Cook told BuzzFeed that Apple did a deep search through all of its documentation and could find zero evidence of malicious chips or an FBI investigation.
"We turned the company upside down," Cook said. "Email searches, data center records, financial records, shipment records. We really forensically whipped through the company to dig very deep and each time we came back to the same conclusion: This did not happen. There's no truth to this."
As BuzzFeed points out, Apple has never publicly called for a retraction of a story before, even in instances where incorrect information was published. Following Cook's discussion with BuzzFeed, the site again contacted Bloomberg, and Bloomberg once again refused to budge.
"Bloomberg Businessweek's investigation is the result of more than a year of reporting, during which we conducted more than 100 interviews," a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in response to a series of questions. "Seventeen individual sources, including government officials and insiders at the companies, confirmed the manipulation of hardware and other elements of the attacks. We also published three companies' full statements, as well as a statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We stand by our story and are confident in our reporting and sources."
Along with multiple strongly worded denials from Apple, including one to Congress, several other sources and government agencies have supported Apple's claims that the information shared in Bloomberg's story is false.

The UK's Cyber Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, former FBI general counsel James Baker, and NSA Senior Advisor Rob Joyce have all questioned the veracity of Bloomberg's claims and have denied knowledge of such an investigation.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls on Bloomberg to Retract Supply Chain Hack Story: 'There's No Truth to This'
 
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- rob -

macrumors 6502a
Apr 18, 2012
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Oakland, CA
This is getting a little bit weird. For Tim to call for a retraction suggests the article must have hit on a core value of the company.

I would guess it has to do with customer privacy and customer trust, where if Apple was the victim of a malicious actor like this and then covered it up, customer data could have been stolen without acknowledgment.

That Bloomberg refuses to stand down is a pretty serious statement from that news organization. I’ve worked with their reporters before and they are professionals.

So I am surprised by this situation where Apple has ratchets it up as far as it can go and Bloomberg has not backed down or released additional information to support the claim.

Very strange situation.
 

acorntoy

macrumors 65816
May 25, 2010
1,487
1,394
Will this story ever go away?!?
For conspiracists, no. The idea is out there, and the fact that people are denying it happened makes it more likely to them.

For everybody else it will once Bloomberg does what Tim Cook has asked and issues a retraction.
 
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AppleFan91

macrumors 68000
Sep 11, 2012
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If they don’t retract their story and continue pushing it, is there some sort of legal precedent for Apple to go after them with? Libel? Defamation of Business? Something? If so, it would be very interesting.
 

Unami

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2010
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This is getting a little bit weird. For Tim to call for a retraction suggests the article must have hit on a core value of the company.

I would guess it has to do with customer privacy and customer trust, where if Apple was the victim of a malicious actor like this and then covered it up, customer data could have been stolen without acknowledgment.

That Bloomberg refuses to stand down is a pretty serious statement from that news organization. I’ve worked with their reporters before and they are professionals.

So I am surprised by this situation where Apple has ratchets it up as far as it can go and Bloomberg has not backed down or released additional information to support the claim.

Very strange situation.
strange indeed. i‘ve heard that the denial-statements from the tech companies sounded strangely similar... could be that they are under pressure from their manufacturers (or from chinese governement or hackers - maybe there’s some ceo-blackmailing going on). or there’s some behind the scenes intelligence-investigation going on.

otoh, i‘ve heard from sources in the cybersecurity-scene that, while those things definitely happen, in this particular case it seems rather unlikely.
 

- rob -

macrumors 6502a
Apr 18, 2012
561
322
Oakland, CA
strange indeed. i‘ve heard that the denials from various tech companies sounded strangely similar... could be that they are under pressure from their manufacturers (or from chinese governement or hackers - maybe there’s some ceo-blackmailing going on). otoh, i‘ve heard from sources in the cybersecurity-scene that, while those things definitely happen, in this particular case it seems rather unlikely.
I just don’t think this is possible because if there were a cover up so easily proven, Tim would lose his job.

And this is not obviously important enough thing for Tim himself to lie over. If it happened Apple could easily just say it did, and what they did to contain the problem. No supplier is important enough to bet the CEO over. And they don’t escalate supplier problems to Tim publicly that I see. Ie broadcom / intel.
 

CWallace

macrumors 604
Aug 17, 2007
7,368
3,532
Seattle, WA
What would happen if it wasn't? Not saying its real but saying WHAT IF...? Something is definitely fishy here but which side it is will only be known in about 10-20 years :D
That Bloomberg refuses to stand down is a pretty serious statement from that news organization. I’ve worked with their reporters before and they are professionals.
I personally am in agreement with the speculation that the Administration wanted to generate "outrage" against China to support the sanctions they have instituted and certain sources within the National Security echelons were tasked with spreading vague insinuations about Chinese espionage against US companies.

Bloomberg had no reason to doubt these sources, but with no solid statements to what said Chinese espionage was, they contacted various Information Security professionals, one who commented on the specific "hardware hack". Bloomberg then went back to these sources and asked if this was what they were talking about and they went "yes" even though they had no real idea - they were just pushing an agenda from on-high. So Bloomberg ran with it, presuming it to be confirmed as true when it in fact was not.


I just don’t think this is possible because if there were a cover up so easily proven, Tim would lose his job. And this is not obviously important enough thing for Tim himself to lie over. If it happened Apple could easily just say it did, and what they did to contain the problem. No supplier is important enough to bet the CEO over. And they don’t escalate supplier problems to Tim publicly that I see. Ie broadcom / intel.
Tim doesn't even have to admit it is true - he can claim "no comment on national security grounds". He did so before about the NSA's PRISM program that Apple was required to provide iCloud-sourced information to (under legal warrant), but was prevented from commenting on by government decree.
 

max.ine

macrumors 6502
Aug 16, 2016
255
371
The more they keep denying this, the more suspicious I get. Heck, I’d completely forgot about the Bloomberg story already until this article about Tim Cook asking them to retract it.

I personally am in agreement with the speculation that the Administration wanted to generate "outrage" against China to support the sanctions they have instituted and certain sources within the National Security echelons were tasked with spreading vague insinuations about Chinese espionage against US companies.

Bloomberg had no reason to doubt these sources, but with no solid statements to what said Chinese espionage was, they contacted various Information Security professionals, one who commented on the specific "hardware hack". Bloomberg then went back to these sources and asked if this was what they were talking about and they went "yes" even though they had no real idea - they were just pushing an agenda from on-high. So Bloomberg ran with it, presuming it to be confirmed as true when it in fact was not.
This is the only other situation I’m willing to believe. Someone here is definitely making up stuff, but it’s hard to say who.
 

JesperA

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2012
676
1,035
Sweden
Discovery.
BB would just love to get all and I mean all of Apple's internal documents. How long do you think that those secrets would stay secret eh?
This is not TV, thats not how discovery works. No judge would ever agree to force Apple to hand over all internal documents. Bloomber would barely even be able to get all documents from their datacenter and security department.
 
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Mac Fly (film)

macrumors 65816
Feb 12, 2006
1,468
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Let’s we not forget, the same writers of this Bloomberg piece have in the last five years written at least three other major tech news stories that never have been proven to be true, and by all accounts seem not to be. If I was a gambling man I’d bet these stories are calculated made up stories. Perhaps not by government misdirection, but by a couple of journalists who are lying. Bloomberg didn’t write the story, a company can’t hold a pen... writers for Bloomberg did. People are people and you’ll find all kinds wherever you look. Certain newspapers in the U.K. make a living creating news.
 

acblue94

macrumors 6502
Jul 26, 2011
259
538
New York, NY.



For the first time since Bloomberg published a highly controversial story suggesting Chinese spies planted microchips in Supermicro server motherboards Apple used in its iCloud facilities, Apple CEO Tim Cook has gone on the record to vehemently deny the claims.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Cook said there is "no truth" to the story about Apple, before making the unprecedented move of calling on Bloomberg to publish a retraction.


Since the report went live earlier this month, Apple has refuted Bloomberg's claims in multiple clearly worded statements denying such an incident ever took place. Apple maintains that the story is "completely untrue," malicious chips were never found in its servers, and there was never an FBI investigation into the incident.

Bloomberg has continued to stand by its original report, which, based on info obtained from 17 unnamed sources, said that Apple, Amazon, and other tech companies had purchased and installed Supermicro servers that had been tampered with by the Chinese government. Small chips were allegedly implanted into server motherboards, allowing China to access corporate secrets and other information.

Apple did have an issue with Supermicro servers that led to the company dropping Supermicro as a supplier, but the relationship ended after malware was discovered on a single server in an incident unrelated to Bloomberg's claims.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, though he only spoke out publicly about the Bloomberg story this week, he's been involved in Apple's response "from the beginning."Cook went on to say that Bloomberg failed to provide Apple with specific details about the malicious chips the company supposedly found and removed, and that Bloomberg's claims are based on "vague secondhand accounts." Cook told BuzzFeed that Apple did a deep search through all of its documentation and could find zero evidence of malicious chips or an FBI investigation.As BuzzFeed points out, Apple has never publicly called for a retraction of a story before, even in instances where incorrect information was published. Following Cook's discussion with BuzzFeed, the site again contacted Bloomberg, and Bloomberg once again refused to budge.Along with multiple strongly worded denials from Apple, including one to Congress, several other sources and government agencies have supported Apple's claims that the information shared in Bloomberg's story is false.

The UK's Cyber Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, former FBI general counsel James Baker, and NSA Senior Advisor Rob Joyce have all questioned the veracity of Bloomberg's claims and have denied knowledge of such an investigation.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls on Bloomberg to Retract Supply Chain Hack Story: 'There's No Truth to This'
Aww. So sad. A victim of fake news. Doesn’t feel great.
 
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macfacts

macrumors 68040
Oct 7, 2012
3,743
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Discovery.
BB would just love to get all and I mean all of Apple's internal documents. How long do you think that those secrets would stay secret eh?
Bloomberg doesn't make computers nor smartphones. Why would Apple care if Bloomberg gets to see some internal documents.
 
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