Apple denies 'backdoor' NSA access

Jan 01, 2014
A man uses his phone as he walks past an Apple store in Hong Kong on December 25, 2013

Apple said Tuesday it had no "backdoor" in its products after a security researcher and a leaked document suggested the US National Security Agency had unfettered access to the iPhone.

Apple said in an email to AFP that it "has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our , including iPhone."

The statement added that " we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products."

Security researcher Jacob Applebaum described the NSA program based on a purportedly leaked document about NSA access to the iPhone, in comments made in Germany.

Apple said it "is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements... and will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who's behind them."

Applebaum told a security conference in Germany that the program called DROPOUTJEEP allowed the NSA to intercept SMS messages, access contact lists, locate a phone using cell tower data, access voice mail or activate an iPhone's microphone and camera.

He described it as "an iPhone backdoor" that allowed the NSA to access any iPhone.

The documents were also described in the German newspaper Der Spiegel.

Security researcher Graham Cluley said in a blog post that Applebaum's presentation and the documents show a "broader range of tools that the NSA apparently deploys against other technology companies and products, including HP (Hewlett-Packard) servers, Cisco firewalls, Huawei routers, and so on."

But Cluley said the document "does not mean that the NSA has complete control of your iPhone" because physical to the device would be needed.

"It may be that they have since found unpatched vulnerabilities in iOS to install the spyware onto targeted devices remotely... but that's not what the leaked documents say," Cluley said.

Cluley also noted that the document dates from 2008.

"Let's hope that Apple has improved its software's since 2008. And if it's not true, we've all got a huge problem," he said.

Explore further: Report says NSA intercepts computer deliveries (Update)

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User comments : 9

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Benni
1 / 5 (2) Jan 01, 2014
It could very well be that Apple has discovered there is a "backdoor" issue here, but denies it as a public relations ploy to ensure its clientele that Applebaum is lying. So long as Apple can convince their product users that Applebaum is lying, then they don't lose any business.

But what if Apple factually knows Applebaum is lying? The question becomes, "why is he lying"? Do some back ground checking on Jacob Applebaum & his ties to conflicts of interest with regard to these issues. He has been head of the Tor Project but has lately cozied up to certain government projects with ties to the NSA. Type his name into Google & you can find a lot about him.

So what is his beef with Apple if in fact he is lying? He wants a payoff from Apple to keep his notorious big fat mouth shut, this is the probable reason he changed his residency from the U.S. to Germany so as to avoid libel action by Apple a U.S. company. He needs a new source of income, so why not try extortion.

antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (7) Jan 01, 2014
Well, Apple wouldn't be the first company to start out denying (in the hopes of not being found out) and later having to cave in in the face of evidence.
It's the standard lawyer ploy: play innocent until playing innocent costs you more than admitting to fault and beating your breast about it.

At this point it really doesn't matter what any spokesperson says or not. It means nothing until evidence for one or the other comes to light.
NMvoiceofreason
not rated yet Jan 01, 2014
Just to provide a counterargument to Benni:

What if Applebaum is NOT lying? Who has the financial incentive then? A closed, unexamined software system presumably breached for over 5 years? Just look at the crackathon results from this period (google "cracked ios 7").

Saying Apple products are secure is just dogma, and doesn't fit with the known facts. ANY operating system can be exploited, and NSA has teams of talented people doing just that. Using the politics of personal destruction does not prove the argument that they are not doing it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 01, 2014
Apple wouldn't be the first company to start out denying (in the hopes of not being found out) and later having to cave in in the face of evidence.
It's the standard lawyer ploy: play innocent until playing innocent costs you more than admitting to fault and beating your breast about it
Translation: guilty until proven innocent, then still guilty because - aren't they all?

Rewrite - The guardian wouldn't be the first newspaper to publish lies without the fear of litigation, in the context of dwindling readers in the age of google news, and later ignore proof that they lied because they know they won't get sued.

It's the standard anonymous poster ploy - imply and declare guilt even though the proper moral stance is to assume innocence, because it feels better and you know you won't get sued.

How come it doesn't matter what respected spokespersons say, who COULD be sued for what they say at this point, but it does matter what a traitorous felon says from his hiding place?
Benni
1 / 5 (1) Jan 01, 2014
How come it doesn't matter what respected spokespersons say, who COULD be sued for what they say at this point,


Who is the respected spokesperson of whom you speak? Cook? Applebaum?

but it does matter what a traitorous felon says from his hiding place?


Applebaum?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 01, 2014
How come it doesn't matter what respected spokespersons say

Because at the current state of affairs it carries no information.

And in case he turns out to be wrong he could still claim he didn't know and present some piad-off scapegoat. It's not like he doesn't have the cash to do that.
There's really no downside for any to claim that they aren't working with the NSA at first.
If you look at the alternatives (no comment or admitting it right off the bat) then he doesn't really have a choice at all, as those would immediately drop the price of shares/profits substantially... which would immediately cost him his job.

So yeah: If someone has no choice to say X (whether X is true or not) then that statement carries no information. (Also as per information theory: if you can send "X" or "Y" - but the receiver always receives "X", then the information value of the received message is zero)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 01, 2014
Because at the current state of affairs it carries no information
Of course it does. It says 'the leaders of this company are willing to go on record as denying unsubstantiated claims '.

Shareholders can hold them accountable for what they say in public and how it affects the value of their stock. It can be used to unseat them if it turns out to be true. It can also be used against them in court.

This is in contrast to traitorous felons who choose to flee the country, and newsrags hungry for traffic who can claim they were only repeating what these felons were saying, true or otherwise.

Why is it you tend to believe the latter, who have the courage to speak out and thus jeopardize their company's reputations and their own careers, over the former, who have nothing to lose and everything to gain in the form of book deals, lucrative interviews and speaking tours, and increased advertising revenue?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 02, 2014
Recent similar such shameless flauntings:

"60 Minutes" dodged questions for several days about the conflicting accounts [of benghazi]. Fager later told HuffPost that Davies assured him that he was at the compound that night and the account revealed by The Washington Post wasn't accurate. On Nov. 6, Fager was still standing by the report, telling HuffPost he was "proud" of it.

"One day later, The New York Times reported that Davies had also told the FBI he never reached the compound, the second known instance of Davies telling a different story than the one he told on "60 Minutes" and in his book. "60 Minutes" quickly pulled the story and Logan apologized on air the following morning."

-Lara Logan still has her job because well she's hawt isn't she?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 02, 2014
"Washington — The New York Times and Guardian newspapers called on Thursday for US leaker Edward Snowden to be granted clemency for his revelations on US government spying.
The two dailies in separate editorials hailed the fugitive computer specialist, who has sought refuge in Russia after leaking reams of information about the secretive US National Security Agency and its data gathering techniques."

-This is called 'spin'. They imply that the NSA and big business are guilty because snow den obviously did some great service or other, despite the fact that hearings have yet to be held, charges have yet to be filed, and gag orders have yet to be lifted.

And as with Bradley manning who also provided similar great service and now sits in prison where he belongs, it matters little what the actual facts are when the story's hot does it ?

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