How to Steal $4 Billion on One Blog Post

  • Comments: 3
  • Written on: May 18th, 2007

In an apparent rush to scoop the blogosphere, the blog Engadget managed to strip $4 billion of market capitalization off of Apple’s stock price in a mere 15 minutes – with a single blog post.

Engadget published what appeared to be a legitimate internal email memo from Apple stating that the release of the iPhone and the new Leopard OS were going to be delayed. The post read:

we have it on authority that as of today, the iPhone launch is being pushed back from June to… October, and Leopard is again seeing a delay, this time being pushed all the way back to January. Of 2008. The latest WWDC Leopard beta will still be handed out, but it looks like Apple-quality takes time, and we’re sure Jobs would remind everyone that it’s not always about “writing a check”, but just how much time are these two products really going to take?

Engadget elected to publish the email’s details, despite the fact no one was available from Apple to officially confirm or deny the message. A short time later, Apple brass launched a second message stating to employees that the first email was a hoax and was not a genuine corporate communication.

This means that someone with significant insider knowledge of what an internal Apple memo looks like, was able to penetrate the *awesome* inherent security (note sarcasm) of not just one Mac, but multiple macs to plant a fake corporate email message that was SO realistic that Apple’s own employees believed it and leaked it to a blog.

Forget hacking into people’s online brokerage accounts – all you need to do is plant the right email on the right corporate network at the right time, and a hacker can make millions on perfectly legitimate stock purchases.

There are so many lapses in security and judgement in this story from start to finish – both on Apple’s end and on Engadget (who is defending their decision to release the information). There is no evidence that Engadget profited from the post in any way, but they just as easily could have been were the unwitting tool of someone else who did.

Incidents like this from a blog as highly respected as Engadget serve to cement the old media’s claim that the uncontrolled, unregulated, and in the end unaccountable blogosphere is about as reliable as a sundial in a dark room.

  1. geeklovr
    geeklovr said on May 18th, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    “was able to penetrate the *awesome* inherent security (note sarcasm) of not just one Mac, but multiple macs to plant a fake corporate email message that was SO realistic that Apple’s own employees believed it and leaked it to a blog.”

    It’s not hard to fake an email. I can setup my email client in just a couple minutes to be sending email as “Thor Schrock ” to who ever I want. Anyone that knows how to setup an email account can do this. Getting the template for their corporate email, while more challenging than setting up an email account, is certainly not impossible.

    None of the above has anything to do with a computer’s or operating system’s security. Keep spreading that FUD though…

    “Incidents like this from a blog as highly respected as Engadget serve to cement the old media’s claim that the uncontrolled, unregulated, and in the end unaccountable blogosphere is about as reliable as a sundial in a dark room.”

    “Old media” isn’t perfect either. You should be skeptical of any news. Just because you read it or watched it does not mean it’s true. Remember that Photoshopped picture of Beirut? It was edited by the photographer to further sensationalize the events, much like your inaccurate description of Apple’s security.

    It’s worth checking out Apple’s stock as well:
    http://finance.google.com/finance?q=Aapl
    You can see the stock drop on the heals of Engadget’s announcement, but it is doing better now than it was before this fiasco.

    btw, you should also check out your archives. You have a lot spam links in your comments.

  2. Thor Schrock said on May 19th, 2007 at 8:24 am

    Yes, I should have mentioned that Apple’s stock returned to its legitimate price within minutes of dropping.

    I hear wht you are saying. It could have just been a guy spoofing an email. But then, that is also a guy who has an email distribution list of Apple employees, internal knowledge of memo construction, and obviously, some malicious intent.

    I still think it is funny that apple users believe that have an aura of invincibility surrounding them simply because they use an Apple.

    Apple sold 10% of all notebook computers sold last quarter. If their overall usership gets above 20% in the marketplace, I think that aura will begin to be pierced. Right now there are just not enough Apple users to justify the time to exploit them on a mass scale.

  3. Thor Schrock said on May 19th, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Also.. Thanks for the tip on the comments. I deleted over 350 spam comments that were placed back when I was using Nucleus. Yet another of the many reasons I switched to WordPress.

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