Apple Calls Out Google’s Project Zero Claims Regarding Security Vulnerabilities in iOS [UPDATED]

Back in the day, Steve Jobs declared “thermonuclear war” on Google. It now seems that we may be headed back to those days. I say that because you might recall that Google’s Project Zero put out a statement on zero day attacks that targeted iOS that they found. I then posted a story that said that not only were the attacks aimed at the Uighur minority in China, and likely done by China, but Google failed to mention that the attacks covered Android and Windows as well.

Now Apple has decided to return fire as only Apple can. The company issued a press release that says among other things this:

First, the sophisticated attack was narrowly focused, not a broad-based exploit of iPhones “en masse” as described. The attack affected fewer than a dozen websites that focus on content related to the Uighur community. Regardless of the scale of the attack, we take the safety and security of all users extremely seriously.

Google’s post, issued six months after iOS patches were released, creates the false impression of “mass exploitation” to “monitor the private activities of entire populations in real time,” stoking fear among all iPhone users that their devices had been compromised. This was never the case.

Second, all evidence indicates that these website attacks were only operational for a brief period, roughly two months, not “two years” as Google implies. We fixed the vulnerabilities in question in February — working extremely quickly to resolve the issue just 10 days after we learned about it. When Google approached us, we were already in the process of fixing the exploited bugs.

The more that this story goes on, the worse that Google looks. It will be interesting to see if Google responds to this as they’ve pretty much been called out and if they don’t respond, the reputation of Project Zero will be in tatters and un-repairable.

Over to you Google.

UPDATE: Google shot back via The Verge saying that it stands by its statement. Game on Apple.

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