Tech giant denies knowledge of DropoutJeep tool to retrieve information and insists it ‘cares deeply about customers‘ privacy’
Apple said: ‘We have never worked with the NSA to create a back door in any of our products, including iPhone.’
Documents released Monday showed the NSA had worked on software that would allow it to remotely retrieve virtually all the information on an iPhone including text messages, photos, contacts, location, voice mail and live calls.
The software, DropoutJeep, was first disclosed by Der Spiegel and security researcher Jacob Appelbaum. The NSA slides are dated 2008, a year after the first iPhone was launched.
In a statement, Apple said: “Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a back door in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team 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.
“Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We 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.”
According to the slides, DropoutJeep required “close access methods” in order to be installed on an iPhone, meaning NSA agents would need physical access to the device. However, the slide notes: “A remote installation capability will be pursued for future use.”
The slides mention iOS5, an iPhone operating system that was launched in June 2011 and updated by iOS6 in September 2012. It is not clear whether the NSA managed to develop the ability to perform remote installation. Given that Apple sold 250m iPhones in its first five years, large scale implementation of DropoutJeep seems unlikely by close access methods.
The spyware is one of the tools employed by the NSA’s ANT (Advanced or Access Network Technology) division to gain backdoor access to various electronic devices. According to Applebaum, the NSA claims a 100% success rate on installation of the program.
Apple, along with its peers, has consistently denied working with the NSA unless it has been legally compelled to do so. The NSA documents, first obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden, have revealed that the NSA has developed the capability to hack other companies, including Google and Yahoo, without their knowledge.
The slide is dated four years before the NSA included Apple in its Prism monitoring program. Apple was the last of the big tech companies to be included in the program, designed to ease data collection for the NSA. Microsoft, by contrast, joined the scheme in 2007, according to the NSA’s slides.
- Apple denies working with NSA on iPhone backdoor – USA TODAY (newestgadgetsinfo.com)
- Apple Says It Is Unaware of NSA’s iPhone Backdoor (allthingsd.com)
- iSpy: Latest report says NSA has backdoor access to iPhones (siliconbeat.com)
- Apple says has never worked with NSA on iPhone backdoors (news.yahoo.com)
- How The NSA Hacks Your iPhone (Presenting DROPOUT JEEP) (thepressnet.com)
Posted By Mantosh Pal