Apple’s Tim Cook Asks Bloomberg to Retract China Spy Story

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is the latest and most prominent executive to call on Bloomberg to retract the claim that its technology supply-chain had been corrupted by Chinese surveillance microchips. According to two Bloomberg reports this month, Chinese spies infiltrated the technology supply chain with a surveillance microchip installed by Silicon Valley-based server company Supermicro. Those tiny chips ended up in the data center hardware of as many as 30 companies, including Amazon and Apple, added the report.

Engadget reports that the original Bloomberg report, on October 4, was followed by a second report that doubled down on the original charges, stating that “an unnamed major U.S. telecom company discover[ed] Supermicro’s surveillance chips within its network.”

All the major wireless carriers, as well as Comcast and CenturyLink, denied that latter charge. U.S. director of national intelligence Dan Coats then told Cyberscoop that, “he’s seen no evidence of the reported Chinese surveillance, but that he’s not taking anything for granted.”

Cook told BuzzFeed, which broke the story about him demanding a retraction, that, “there is no truth in their story about Apple,” but Bloomberg has “stuck to its reporting and apparently still stands by the story.”

The Verge reports that although the Bloomberg story “cited multiple unnamed sources from U.S. intelligence services as well as former employees from both companies,” it has not yet been corroborated by “reporters outside of Bloomberg, and it has met with a string of detailed denials from tech companies and government officials.”

Amazon and Apple have strongly denied the claims, and “senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the U.K.’s top cybersecurity agency also say they are not aware of a supply-chain attack like the one described by Bloomberg.” One of its named sources, political scientist Thomas Rid also said that the story’s claim “didn’t make any sense.”

“Man up Bloomberg, face the facts if you think facts matter, get to the bottom of what went wrong here,” he tweeted. “And try to salvage your badly tarnished reputation in computer security reporting.”

Related:
Amazon Exec and Super Micro CEO Call for Retraction of Spy Chip Story, The Verge, 10/22/18