Sunday, October 21, 2018

Tim Cook calls for Bloomberg to retract its Big Hack story

Earlier this month, there was a report that detailed an exhaustive effort from Chinese spies to integrate specific chips onto servers used by some of the largest companies in the United States, namely Apple and Amazon.

Tim Cook calls for Bloomberg to retract its Big Hack story

In what’s being described as an “extraordinary statement” because Apple has never previously publicly called for a retraction of a news story, Cook said:
There is no truth in (the Bloomberg) story about Apple. They need to do that [sic] right thing and retract it.
The executive also expressed frustration with how Bloomberg has handled the process after numerous rebuttals by the company, explaining:
I was involved in our response to this story 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. Each time they brought this up to us, the story changed, and each time we investigated we found nothing. 
According to the report, China was able to attach tiny microchips the size of a rice grain to many of these parts. From there, they made their way onto Supermicro’s server motherboards and eventually to companies like Apple. Once the servers were turned on, the microchips were designed to alter the machine’s operating system so that it could accept code modifications.

In a press release, Apple said:
As a matter of practice, before servers are put into production at Apple they are inspected for security vulnerabilities and we update all firmware and software with the latest protections. We did not uncover any unusual vulnerabilities in the servers we purchased from Super Micro when we updated the firmware and software according to our standard procedures. 
Since then, Bloomberg has continued to stick by its story, telling Buzzfeed News:

Bloomberg Businessweek’s investigation is the result of more than a year of reporting, during which we conducted more than 100 interviews. 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.
Apple’s Tim Cook calling for a retraction on a story of this magnitude is pretty crazy. But the fact that so many independent agencies, including the DHS, have backed Apple on this matter does give the company a lot of room. The story itself has spun into something else entirely, almost eclipsing the original spy story altogether at this point.


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