Apple CEO Tim Cook calls for retraction of Bloomberg's Chinese iCloud chip hack story

Cook denies reports that Apple has been hacked by the Chinese.

Frederic J. Brown — AFP/Getty Images
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Apple CEO Tim Cook is standing pat against Bloomberg in his denial of their story about iCloud servers being compromised by a very tiny Chinese chip. He recently called for the company to retract their story in a phone interview conducted by BuzzFeed News. 

"I feel they should retract their story. There is no truth in their story about Apple. They need to do the right thing," said Cook to BuzzFeed News in their recent interview. Bloomberg Businessweek had reported earlier in the month that as many as thirty tech companies had been compromised by extremely tiny Chinese spy chips. According to Bloomberg's investigation, Apple had cut ties with the supplier in 2015 when they discovered sabotaged hardware and notified the FBI of a potential issue.

Apple has never publicly asked for a story to be retracted, so this adamant stance is pretty surprising from the tech behemoth. Cook and other Apple representatives had provided responses to Bloomberg's questions regarding the potential hack and even went so far as to conduct their own internal assessment. “We turned the company upside down,” Cook said to BuzzFeed News. “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.”

Bloomberg has decided to keep their sources for this report anonymous, and the intelligence agencies are supporting Apple's denial. “Bloomberg Businessweek's investigation is the result of more than a year of reporting, during which we conducted more than 100 interviews,” a Bloomberg representative told BuzzFeedNews. “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.”

What do you think, Shackers? Is Apple trying to cover something up, or could Bloomberg have falsely reported all or part of this story? Let us know in the comments section. Apple will likely shift their focus to their latest Special Event focusing on Mac and iPad next week.

Asif Khan is the CEO and majority shareholder of Shacknews. He began his career in video game journalism as a freelancer in 2001 for Tendobox.com. Asif is a CPA and was formerly an investment adviser representative. After much success in his own personal investments, he retired from his day job in financial services and is currently focused on new private investments. His favorite PC game of all time is Duke Nukem 3D, and he is an unapologetic fan of most things Nintendo. Asif first frequented the Shack when it was sCary's Shugashack to find all things Quake. When he is not immersed in investments or gaming he is a purveyor of fine electronic music. Asif also has an irrational love of Cleveland sports.

From The Chatty

    • reply
      October 22, 2018 9:24 AM

      If there was any doubt this pretty much leaves no doubt that the story is false right?

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        October 22, 2018 9:47 AM

        Of course, no doubt whatsoever.

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        October 22, 2018 10:21 AM

        I can see a scenario where companies like Apple wouldn’t want this story reported if it were true and would actively deny it, but for a high profile CEO like Tim Cook to come out and ask for the story to be retracted is pretty significant.

        I mean, when that Mike Daisey story came out where he talked about the horrible factory conditions and how Apple was complicit and it turned out to be bullshit and TAL retracted it, Apple and Tim Cook didn’t say anything back then.

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      October 22, 2018 9:52 AM

      Bloomberg has a terrible history of poor reporting when it comes to technology issues. Pretty clear their reports got fed a line from bad sources, then when and got thin technical advising from third party sources to confirm a conclusion they had already made.

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      October 22, 2018 10:09 AM

      At this point it seems like complete bullshit and that someone could have come up with SOME physical evidence if it were true.

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        October 22, 2018 10:12 AM

        I'm confused, isn't the whole story about a physical chip? Should be pretty easy to prove or disprove.

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        October 22, 2018 10:21 AM

        Yeah, that is my biggest problem with the story. Don’t reveal your sources, fine, but where is this chip?

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      October 22, 2018 10:29 AM

      why couldn't they just sue if there is no truth to the story?

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        October 22, 2018 10:31 AM

        "I feel the story should be retracted" is actually pretty weaksauce from a company as hardball-playing as Apple can often be.

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        October 22, 2018 10:35 AM

        The focus of the Bloomberg article was on Supermicro, not Apple. Apple and Amazon were just the most high profile tech companies among several which Bloomberg made mention to.

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          October 22, 2018 10:41 AM

          So what does that distinction matter? It still hurts Apple's reputation.

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            October 22, 2018 10:54 AM

            How would you recommend that Apple approach this? Your burden of proof is to show financial harm done to the company by the Bloomberg article.

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          October 22, 2018 2:36 PM

          This got me checking Supermicro's share price and... ouch , it pretty much halved overnight.

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        October 22, 2018 3:24 PM

        Because apple would need to be DAMN sure there wasn’t a speck of truth to it. And apple is a pretty big company, and it’s always possible some information never reached to top. The Bloomberg story doesn’t need to be all true, just close.

        That’s a huge cost and risk for apple, and there’s no benefit.

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          October 22, 2018 3:34 PM

          I should add- Apple could only win by proving that Bloomberg basically knew the story was false and published it anyways, and Bloomberg would point out that they had a dozen confidential sources that told them this was true, so they did their diligence. Then Apple would have to demand that Bloomberg reveal their sources -- some of which could be covert agents or subject to retribution in China. That's a really, really shitty thing to do (downright Trump-like).

          It's hard to imagine a company with a relatively-good reputation like Apple would want to go down that road and look like they were trying to silence a media outlet reporting on a very real and serious problem (chinese spying). And even if they did that, and Bloomberg was forced to reveal their sources, it's very possible these sources might prove some aspects of the story right. That would make things infinitely worse for apple.

          Again- there is literally no upside here for Apple. They are in a good position right now - they can bang the table and make demands of Bloomberg, knowing that Bloomberg won't reveal their sources.

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      October 22, 2018 11:11 AM

      Amazon AWS CEO now says the same.

      https://mobile.twitter.com/ajassy/status/1054401346827243520?s=12

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      October 22, 2018 2:52 PM

      Pretty sure you don’t cite your investigations and conversations with your general counsel unless you’re 99% sure the story is BS. Would tend to think Apple is right here.