Apple CEO Tim Cook is personally stepping into the battle between his company and Bloomberg over a report on Chinese server hacking.
In recent weeks, Apple has issued a series of strong denials following a Bloomberg Businessweek story that claimed infiltration of servers, used by the likes of Amazon Web Services and Apple, by Chinese spies.
The response has included letters to the House and Senate commerce committees, saying that its internal investigations haven’t corroborated the Bloomberg piece.
Now, Cook has called for a retraction of the Bloomberg story in an interview with BuzzFeed News.
"There is no truth in their story about Apple," Cook said, according to BuzzFeed. "They need to do that right thing and retract it."
An Apple spokesman told CRN that Cook’s quotes to BuzzFeed were accurate, and said the company was not commenting further.
Prior to this, Apple has never publicly demanded that a news outlet retract a story, BuzzFeed said.
In response to questions from Bloomberg, "We turned the company upside down,” Cook told BuzzFeed.
"Email searches, data centre 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."
Messages to Bloomberg were not immediately returned on Friday. "We stand by our story and are confident in our reporting and sources," Bloomberg told BuzzFeed.
The Bloomberg Businessweek report contended that server motherboards made by California-based Supermicro, which were eventually used by companies including Apple and AWS, were compromised with malicious hardware during manufacturing.
The servers were implanted with tiny microchips that were intended to transmit sensitive data to Chinese intelligence services, according to Bloomberg.
Along with Apple, Supermicro and AWS have repeatedly denied the accuracy of the report.
The US Department of Homeland Security has also released a statement showing support for the rebuttals issued by Apple and AWS.
Previously, Apple has said that it "has never found malicious chips, 'hardware manipulations' or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server."
In a follow-up story last week, Bloomberg reported that a major US telecommunications company, which was not identified by name, discovered and removed a compromised Supermicro server in August.
But Supermicro also denied the claims of that report, and US telcos including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have said they were not affected.