NSA can reportedly eavesdrop on your iPhone, Apple denies any involvement

David Parker January 3, 2014 1

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Security researcher Jacob Applebaum in association with the German news magazine Der Spiegel have claimed that the ‘National Security Agency’ (NSA) is capable of accessing almost everything that is stored on an iPhone with the help of a program that NSA developed in 2008.

According to leaked NSA documents, there exists a program known as DROPOUTJEEP in NSA’s possession that is powerful enough to gather critical information about a user’s iPhone by intercepting his SMS messages, getting access to the contact list, locating the position of the phone through cell tower data and more shockingly, even activate the iPhone’s camera and microphone remotely.

Security researcher Jacob Applebaum revealed this information in a speech at the 30th Chaos Communication Congress held in Germany.

Below is an excerpt from the leaked NSA document that talks about DROPOUTJEEP:

DROPOUT JEEP is a software implant for the Apple iPhone that utilizes modular mission applications to provide specific SIGINT functionality. This functionality includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc. Command, control and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted.

Below is an image from the leaked NSA document that describes in detail about the DROPOUTJEEP program.

nsa-iphone-hack-2008-document

That is not all; NSA even claims a shocking 100 percent success rate in hijacking an iPhone to install the spyware. However, it might come as a relief to hear that the NSA will need actual physical access to the smartphone to install the spyware rather than do it remotely. However, the leaked document suggests that a remote version is in the works too.

The claimed success rate of DROPOUTJEEP and the staggering amount of data that it is able to collect from a hijacked iPhone has led Mr.Applebaum to question Apple’s involvement and integrity in the matter. Below is an excerpt from his speech at the conference:

I don’t really believe that Apple didn’t help them. I can’t really prove it, but they [the NSA] literally claim that anytime they target an iOS device, that it will succeed for implantation. Either they have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products, meaning that they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves. Not sure which one it is. I’d like to believe that since Apple didn’t join the PRISM program until after Steve Jobs died, that maybe it’s just that they write shitty software.

Not only iPhones, the leaked documents even talk about other spy apps that can be used for similar activities on other smartphones. Some of these spyware names are equally cryptic such as: GOPHERSET, MONKEYCALENDAR, TOTECHASER, TOTEGHOSTLY and PICASSO.

Below is a video from the conference in question where Mr.Applebaum talks about the covert NSA spyware application for iPhones. He even tweeted about the same.

Following the widespread anger over the apparent involvement of Apple working with NSA to help them create this program, Apple was prompt to issue a statement to the website TechCrunch. The statement clearly mentions that Apple has not cooperated with the NSA for any such activity.

Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor 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. 

Although Apple have denied their involvement in the spying program, one is really astonished to hear the rate at which NSA’s skeletons are tumbling out of the closet after Edward Snowden leaked confidential NSA documents.

What are your thoughts on DROPOUTJEEP and its spying capabilities? Are you worried that NSA could easily monitor the iPhone in your hand without your knowledge? Do let us know your thoughts by writing to us in the comments section below.

Via: The Daily Dot

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One Comment »

  1. Charlie Griffith  January 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm - Reply

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