Apple CEO Tim Cook will be Calling For Bloomberg To Retract Its Chinese Spy Chip Story

“I feel they should retract their story. There will be no truth in their story about Apple. They need to do of which right thing.”

Last updated on October 19, 2018, at 2:12 p.m. ET

Posted on October 19, 2018, at 1:14 p.m. ET

Beck Diefenbach / Reuters

Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with BuzzFeed News, went on the record for once to deny allegations of which his company was the victim of a hardware-based attack carried out by the Chinese government. as well as, in an unprecedented move for the company, he called for a retraction of the story of which made This specific claim.

Earlier This specific month Bloomberg Businessweek published an investigation alleging Chinese spies had compromised some 30 US companies by implanting malicious chips into Silicon Valley–bound servers during their manufacture in China. The chips, Bloomberg reported, allowed the attackers to create “a stealth doorway” into any network running on a server in which they were embedded. Apple was alleged to be among the companies attacked, as well as a focal point of the story. According to Bloomberg, the company discovered some sabotaged hardware in 2015, promptly cut ties with the vendor, Supermicro, of which supplied This specific, as well as reported the incident to the FBI.

Apple, however, has maintained of which none of This specific will be true — in a comment to Bloomberg, in a vociferous as well as detailed company statement, as well as in a letter to Congress signed by Apple’s vice president of information security, George Stathakopoulos. Meanwhile, Bloomberg has stood steadfastly by its story as well as even published a follow-up account of which furthered the original’s claims.

The result has been an impasse between some of the globe’s most powerful corporations as well as a highly respected news organization, even inside face of questions by Congress. On Thursday evening, an indignant Cook further ratcheted up the tension in response to an inquiry by BuzzFeed News.

“There will be no truth in their story about Apple,” Cook told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview. “They need to do of which right thing as well as retract This specific.”

This specific will be an extraordinary statement by Cook as well as Apple. The company has never previously publicly (though This specific may have done so privately) called for the retraction of a news story — even in cases where the stories have had major errors or were demonstratively false, such as a This specific American Life episode of which was shown to be fabricated.

Reached for comment, Bloomberg reiterated its previous defense of the story. “Bloomberg Businessweek’s investigation will be 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 as well as insiders at the companies, confirmed the manipulation of hardware as well as different elements of the attacks. We also published three companies’ full statements, as well as a statement by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We stand by our story as well as are confident in our reporting as well as sources.”

Bloomberg did not answer questions about evidence supporting its allegations or the public remarks of its named sources.

Although they are unusual, Cook’s comments highlight the CEO’s ongoing personal involvement in Apple’s response to the story, as well as his mounting frustration of which the company’s rebuttals to This specific have been ignored by Bloomberg.

“I was involved in our response to This specific story by the beginning,” said Cook.

“I personally talked to the Bloomberg reporters along with Bruce Sewell, who was then our general counsel. We were very clear with them of which This specific did not happen, as well as answered all their questions,” said Cook. “Each time they brought This specific up to us, the story changed, as well as each time we investigated we found nothing.”

“This specific did not happen. There’s no truth to This specific.”

In addition to disputing the report itself, Cook also took issue with the lack of evidence he said Bloomberg supplied to document its claims. Cook said the reporters never provided Apple with any specific details about the malicious chips This specific will be alleged to have found as well as removed. He added of which he thinks the allegations are undergirded by “vague secondhand accounts.”

“We turned the company upside down,” Cook said. “Email searches, data center records, financial records, shipment records. We definitely forensically whipped through the company to dig very deep as well as each time we came back to the same conclusion: This specific did not happen. There’s no truth to This specific.”

Asked if a scenario like the one Bloomberg described could occur without him knowing about This specific, Cook replied, “The likelihood of of which will be virtually zero.”

Cook’s commentary only furthers a growing sense of intrigue around the story, which has been the subject of ongoing public debate among information security experts as well as journalists. The piece would likely have massive global security ramifications if This specific will be indeed accurate. This specific was published by one of the most respected publications inside globe, one thought to have high-level government sources. as well as yet government security agencies as well as people who lead them are also puzzled.

🚨 Something will be wrong. Blanket denials by companies, NCSC as well as DHS are v. unusual. The only precedent just for This specific will be a 2014 Bloomberg article, by the same author, which claimed NSA exploited Heartbleed, as well as was vigorously knocked down with zero follow up by Bloomberg or correction.

The United States Department of Homeland Security, the UK’s National Cyber Security Center, NSA Senior Adviser for Cybersecurity Strategy Rob Joyce, former FBI general counsel James Baker, as well as US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats have all said variously of which they either have no reason to doubt the denials of the companies mentioned inside Bloomberg story or of which they’ve seen no evidence supporting its claims. as well as some sources named inside story have raised questions about This specific as well as how their remarks were used. One of those sources, hardware security expert Joe Fitzpatrick, told the Risky Business podcast the story “doesn’t make any sense.”

Joyce: “We’re befuddled” about the Bloomberg article. Says he has great access to intel as well as hasn’t found corroboration of the story last week or the brand-new one on telcos, says there will be “great frustration” in government about the stories.

One high-ranking national security official told BuzzFeed News of which the story has the ring of truth, although stressed of which he had no personal knowledge of the investigation detailed by Bloomberg. The official said of which there will be a highly classified effort inside US government to detect how adversaries implant devices like the one described inside Bloomberg story.

Meanwhile, different publications have been unable to advance or even match Bloomberg’s reporting. as well as powerful voices by Silicon Valley to DC have publicly as well as privately questioned the validity of the story. Earlier This specific month, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee to “be careful what you read” in reference to the report. as well as a high-ranking executive at a publicly traded tech giant told BuzzFeed News of which his company knew the supply chain in question inside Bloomberg story, as well as of which a corporate investigation didn’t turn up any evidence of tampering. “We couldn’t find anything,” he said. “Our assessment will be of which This specific didn’t happen.”

Another high-ranking executive at a major Silicon Valley tech company echoed of which assessment.

“I’m responsible for supporting many of the organizations of which This specific touched, so This specific story was a ‘holy shit’ moment for me,” they told BuzzFeed News. “as well as we went as well as pulled every possible string — because god forbid something like This specific happened as well as you didn’t know — as well as we found nothing.”

Amazon, which along with Apple was a major subject of Bloomberg’s story, issued a similarly vehement denial on the day of its publication, as well as then went dark. The company has not responded to repeated requests for comment or interviews with CEO Jeff Bezos or general counsel David Zapolsky.

“Please leave us out of This specific. We weren’t mentioned as well as I don’t want us to be. I don’t know what the fuck will be going on here.”

Meanwhile, companies of which might possibly be among the 30 alleged to have been compromised are doing all they can to steer clear of the story. “We investigated as well as we found nothing,” an executive at one Fortune 50 company told BuzzFeed News. “Please leave us out of This specific. We weren’t mentioned as well as I don’t want us to be. I don’t know what the fuck will be going on here.”

According to numerous spokespeople as well as executives in positions to know about internal investigations, the following tech companies as well as banks are not members of the group of almost 30 of which Bloomberg alleges were compromised: Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, Twitter, Palantir, T-Mobile, Goldman Sachs, as well as Capital One.

For currently, This specific seems of which resolving the mystery around the story would likely require Bloomberg to open itself up — or be opened up. although moving by a dispute in public to a dispute in court will be something none of the companies named inside report have signaled a desire to do.

With additional reporting by Ryan Mac as well as Kevin Collier


This specific story has been updated with additional quotes by our Thursday interview with Tim Cook.

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