Apple CEO Tim Cook urges Bloomberg to retract spy chip story

Galtero Lara
Octubre 21, 2018

In an interview with BuzzFeed News published Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook called on Bloomberg to retract a contentious investigative report that found that Chinese spies used microchips to infiltrate several major U.S. tech companies. Now, for the first time, Apple is asking Bloomberg to retract the report. Again, some will argue that they are lying, and (again) while those agencies may have a history of misrepresenting things, the denials here were clear and unequivocal.

Through secret design changes in the factory, the Chinese military was able to insert a small custom chip it had designed into motherboards for the video-compression server maker Elemental, which relied on Super Micro for manufacturing. Bloomberg reported that chips likely implanted by China's spy agency in subcontractors in China had made their way into servers used by Apple, Amazon Web Services and USA national defense hardware.

All of this left Bloomberg on its own when it comes to this story, which it has stood by since publication.

Cook told an online news agency that there was no truth in the story about Apple and Bloomberg needs to do the right thing by retracting it. Apple previously denied it had contacted or been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or other government agencies, also claimed in the story.

"I personally talked to the Bloomberg reporters along with Bruce Sewell, who was then our general counsel", Cook told BuzzFeed.

"Like our partners in the United Kingdom, the National Cyber Security Centre, at this time we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story".

One of the named sources in Bloomberg Businessweek report on the so-called Chinese spying chip said that his comment was taken "out of context" and the story "did not make sense".

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An Apple spokesman told CRN that Cook's quotes to BuzzFeed were accurate, and said the company is not commenting further.

Apple, AWS, Super Micro and China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs all disputed the report, which cited anonymous government and corporate sources.

Bloomberg is standing by its reporting, saying in a statement, "Bloomberg Businessweek's investigation is the result of more than a year of reporting, during which we conducted more than 100 interviews".

"Apple has never found malicious chips, hardware manipulations or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server", it said.

A few weeks back, Blooomberg had reported that Chinese spies had compromised more than 30 U.S. companies.

According to Cook, Apple turned the company upside down trying to find the chip, turning over emails, data centers, shipments, and financial records.

The story was explosive right away, detailing how worldwide spies had managed to find a way on the hardware level to access these companies, with the obvious implications being a major security breach.

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