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File photo: Apple CEO Tim Cook gestures next to Apple's Vision Pro headsets at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S. June 5, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

You might know it as the "V for victory" or the peace sign.

Whatever you call it, Apple CEO Tim Cook does the two-fingered salute everywhere.

He has blared the peace sign on his way into White House dinners and at a 2021 court appearance for a lawsuit that accused Apple of abusing its power.

Cook threw up the two-fingered salute while on a stroll last month at the Sun Valley, Idaho, gathering of corporate and finance titans. He did the peace sign pose at the same event in 2021 and 2019, too.

He's given the V at the Cannes Film Festival, Apple entertainment premieres, Apple store events, business conferences and college graduations. He gestured for peace while posing with Apple's $3,499 face computer in June.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook and his guest, former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, who is now Apple's Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, arrive for the dinner. Image Credit: REUTERS

What Cook does with his hands is unimportant. And I don't know why Cook flashes the two-fingered sign. Maybe it's a habit he does without thinking. (Apple didn't respond to a request for comment.)

But hey, it's a summer Friday and the world is burning. Why not hash over a tiny, low-stakes mystery about Apple's CEO?

Going deeper, Cook's repeated two-finger salute adds a dose of humanity to one of the world's most powerful business leaders.

When well-known people have romantic troubles, wait in line at Starbucks or lean on verbal or gestural habits, it makes them a little more relatable. Stars, they're just like us.

A short history of the V sign
The index and middle fingers raised in a V sign has a long and varied track record.
The British leader Winston Churchill used it to rally his country to win World War II. Americans opposed to the Vietnam War used the gesture as an antiwar symbol in the 1960s and beyond.
It has been used by authoritarian leaders including former president of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos. (His son, the current president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., flashes the V sign, too.)
It's also been used as a symbol against dictators, including by people protesting regimes in Iran and Egypt.
K-pop stars flash the V sign to paparazzi. Beyonc has posed giving the peace sign, too.
Laura Miller, a specialist in Japanese culture and linguistic anthropology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, said the contemporary practice of making the V sign when posing for photographs originated with young women in Japan starting in the 1980s.
The two-fingered gesture is now so common in East Asia that "it is stripped of any specific meaning and is simply the nonverbal equivalent of saying 'cheese,'" Miller said.
Giving the peace sign might be the only thing that the buttoned-up Apple CEO has in common with K-pop celebrities.

Is Cook's habit a security threat?

Some cybersecurity experts have warned that hackers can re-create people's fingerprints from photos.

So might criminals use all those photos of Cook's peace digits to make replica fingers?

Chester Wisniewski, a digital security specialist with the firm Sophos, said it's plausible but too stupid to be likely.

A 50-megapixel photo of someone a few yards from the lens "could reveal a moderately detailed fingerprint," he said. "To what end? Not much."

If crooks wanted to impersonate Cook by re-creating his fingerprint to unlock an iPhone or Mac, for example, Wisniewski said they would need to have his physical phone or computer, too.

He said a duplicate fingerprint (or replica face) on their own aren't much use to bad guys.

"If I steal your iPhone and need to unlock it with your face I will probably just hold you at knife point and use the one attached to you, not make a new one," Wisniewski said.