Apple just put Google on blast for trying to stoke 'fear among all iPhone users that their devices had been compromised'

Tim Cook


Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Last week, researchers at Project Zero, Google's cybersecurity division, published a blog post that claimed a handful of hacked websites were used to quietly infiltrate iPhones for the past two years.
  • Apple published a statement on Friday in response to Google's blog post, assuring customers that the exploit was "narrowly focused" and "affected fewer than a dozen websites."
  • The company also blasted Google for creating a "false impression of mass exploitation" and "stoking fear among all iPhone users that their devices had been compromised."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

One week after Google researchers published a blog post claiming that a state-backed Chinese campaign leveraged an exploit in iOS to target a certain group of Muslims over the past two years, Apple published a response to calm worried users, and threw some extra shade at the search giant in the process.

In a statement on Friday, Apple said that Google's post, "issued six months after iOS patches were released, creates the false impression of 'mass exploitation' ... stoking fear among all iPhone users that their devices had been compromised. This was never the case."Advertisement

Google's post, published on August 29, said it was able to identify five separate iPhone exploit chains, which worked on almost every operating system version from iOS 10 all the way to iOS 12, the current iPhone software. Google said "this indicated a group making a sustained effort to hack the users of iPhones in certain communities over a period of at least two years."

Apple's response, however, said that the "sophisticated attack was narrowly focused, not a broad-based exploit of iPhones 'en masse' as described," adding that "all evidence indicates that these website attacks were only operational for a brief period, roughly two months, not 'two years' as Google implies."

Business Insider has reached out to Google and will update this post if we hear back.

Apple added that the company resolved the issue "just 10 days after we learned about it" in February.

"When Google approached us, we were already in the process of fixing the exploited bugs," Apple said.Apple has taken security and privacy very seriously in recent years, even leaning on those features to help it sell more devices like iPhones and Mac computers. Security is also a centerpiece of Apple's first credit card, the Apple Card, which launched last month. So it's not surprising that Apple doesn't want Google to control the narrative of this particular exploit, since any publicity about iOS not being a completely solid ecosystem could cause some people to consider rival platforms, like Google's Android.Advertisement

You can read Google's full blog post, and Apple's response to that post, to get the complete picture.

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