Technology

What's Up With Apple: $50 Million Ransomware Attack, Senate Hearing

On Tuesday, The Record reported that a gang of hackers had succeeded in stealing files from Taiwanese laptop manufacturer Quanta Computer. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is among Quanta’s customers, and the hacker group, known as REvil or Sodinokibi, posted nearly two dozen schematic drawings for the latest Macbook. Quanta also manufactures laptops for HP, Toshiba, LG and Lenovo, among others, according to The Record.

REvil reportedly demanded that Quanta pay a $50 million ransom to stop the hackers from posting more files. The Taiwanese company refused and REvil is now seeking the ransom payment directly from Apple.

The announcement of the attack pointedly coincided with Apple’s product introduction on Tuesday, posting a message that read, in part, “Our team is negotiating the sale of large quantities of confidential drawings and gigabytes of personal data with several major brands. We recommend that Apple buy back the available data by May 1.”

According to a report from Bloomberg, Quanta has acknowledged the ransomware attack:

Quanta Computer’s information security team has worked with external IT experts in response to cyber attacks on a small number of Quanta servers. We’ve reported to and kept seamless communications with the relevant law enforcement and data protection authorities concerning recent abnormal activities observed. There’s no material impact on the company’s business operation.

Apple has not commented on the theft.

One day after Apple’s product announcements, corporate law vice president and chief compliance officer, Kyle Andeer, joined Google’s senior director of public policy and government relations, Wilson White, for a grilling by a U.S. Senate subcommittee looking into antitrust and anti-competitive allegations against the companies.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wanted to know if Apple and Google maintained a “strict firewall” to prevent the company from using information gleaned from approving apps for space in the App Store to design and develop Apple’s own products. The company has been charged with “sherlocking” before.

A recent example of such an allegation would be the AirTag tracking devices Apple introduced on Tuesday. Tile, a company that has sold a similar find-your-lost-phone product since 2015, told the committee that AirTags have an unfair competitive advantage because Apple does not allow Tile to use the same ultra-wideband (UWB) frequencies used by the new AirTags.

In what may have been the most spectacular revelation, Match Group’s chief legal officer, Jared Sine, told the committee that a Google official called Sine the night before the hearing to threaten Match.

Apple will go into court next month to defend itself against similar charges made by Fortnite developer Epic Games. In Europe, music streaming pioneer Spotify is pressing an anti-competitive complaint against Apple with European Union officials.