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iPhone and you’re known: spooks coming in through Apple’s “back door”

cross posted at the demise

Apple logo with a fish hook

It’s a trap.

Digital activist Jacob Applebaum (@ioerror), in a wide ranging presentation on what is currently known about the massive government coordinated and private business architected and facilitated uber-surevillance regime that interlopes into all planetary electronic interpersonal communications before the 30th Chaos Communication Congress over this past weekend, provided evidence of the National Security Agency’s creation of a software application that provides a ‘back door’ into all Apple iPhones allowing direct government surveillance of any purchaser of what is Apple’s flagship consumer product.

The power-point slide that Applebaum revealed to conferees describes that the US government created Apple iPhone specific malware program, called “Dropout Jeep,” was developed prior to 2007 and has the capacity to “remotely push/pull files from the device, SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, (allow access to) voice mail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc.”

The NSA further describes the government developed spy-ware’s capability to allow government agents to extract all of the above detailed data and functionally take control of an iPhone (what the spy agency refers to as “command and control”) without revealing itself to an iPhone owner utilizing SMS messaging and GPRS data connections to transmit the stolen data and information from the device to the NSA’s collectors without altering the iPhones general functionality (i.e. without slowing down the data transfer indicating to the iPhone’s user that the device has been “taken over” by unknown operatives). Additionally, the NSA advises its clients that all data stolen from iPhones that are infected by the government developed malware will be sent back to the home office both covertly and in an encrypted format.

Applebaum, speaking to the tech-savvy Chaos Communication Congress, asked rhetorically if the malware was developed without the assistance of Apple, Inc, or with the assistance of the company itself, analyzing that either the company’s software was so shoddily written that it could allow hackers (in this case US military hackers, but hackers none the less) to easily penetrate the devices that it has sold to millions of end-users around the world, or, rather, Apple, Inc. had a hand in developing Dropout Jeep allowing all iPhone users’ intimate conversations and texts and private transactions and purchases to be covertly recorded and transmitted.

Apple, Inc., has today advised that it had no part in the US military’s development of the back-door iPhone surveillance malware program. While the company’s’ statement may provide solace to some of its customers assuring them that the company is concerned about the privacy of their personal communications, many have viewed today’s statement by Apple to be a tacit admission that iPhone products do in fact have open back-door access that allows warrantless government surveillance, data collection and transfer.

According to documents revealed by Edward Snowden, Apple, Inc. (which holds a place of high esteem with its consumer base of owners and users, many of whom see themselves as highly aware internet and computer users and many of whom are also understandably concerned that their personal communications and transactions are being recorded, conveyed and stored for future analysis by the US military technical complex, including the National Security Agency and Homeland Security) voluentarilly joined the rest of the world’s major data services and telecommunications companies in their official cooperation with the American military in what has been revealed to be the most wide-spread and intrusive spying regime in human history in October 2012. While the NSA screen-shot that Applebaum revealed this past weekend does not indicate Apple cooperated with government agents to create the massive iPhone back-door called “Dropout Jeep,” it does suggest that iPhone owners who purchased devices from Apple since 2007 should realize that, while they don’t believe that they are suspicious in the eyes of the NSA, the agency knows better and is poised to act should “actionable” user data be pilfered.

Image by Christopher Dombres under a Creative Commons license.

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patrick devlin

patrick devlin

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