Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

Summary: In exchange for mobile presence in India, RIM, Nokia and Apple have allegedly provided backdoor access for the Indian intelligence to spy on communication.

SHARE:

On January 6th reports of Symantec (makers of Norton Anitvirus) being hacked surfaced. The group of hackers behind the attack behind the attack were from India. In a statement issued by a member from the Lords of Dharamraja group (badass name!), the guys said:

As of now we start sharing with all our brothers and followers information from the Indian Militaty (sic) Intelligence servers, so far we have discovered within the Indian Spy Programme (sic) source codes of a dozen software companies which have signed agreements with Indian TANCS programme (sic) and CBI

Ignoring the typing error, gaining access to Indian Military's Intelligence servers is pretty damning for the agency. The hack got covered since the hackers claimed to have acces to Norton's source code. Earlier today I came across scans of a set of documents that are internal communications between the Indian Military. The documents claim the existence of a system known as RINOA SUR. While I did not find what SUR stands for but RINOA is RIM, NOkia and Apple. And this is where things start to get very interesting, according to the set of documents, the RINOA SUR platform was used to spy on the USCC—the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Let's take a moment for that to digest. Here's an image from the documents underlining the relevant part:

The documents contain snippets of emails sent by members of the USCC. Apparently, RINOA SUR platform has been declared a success and the Indian Navy has shown interest in the same. The leaked military documents suggest, RINOA were arm twisted into providing backdoor access in exchange for operating in India:

While the Indian government recently gave the nation's premiere spy agency—RAW—permission to access any citizen's electronic communication, the Department of Telecommunications has reached out to the Interpol for help in decrypting communication via services like RIM's BlackBerry. The set of leaked images:

Hat tip

Topics: Nokia, Apple, Mobility, BlackBerry, Security

Manan Kakkar

About Manan Kakkar

Telecommunication engineer with a keen interest in end-user technology and a News junkie, I share my thoughts while preparing for my Master's in Information Management.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

25 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • The US military already have

    The US military already have this for every phone.
    root12
    • Please post links to proof

      @root12
      otherwise your comment is little more than a ficticious statement.
      Tim Cook
      • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

        @Mister Spock
        I'm sure he has no proof, but I wouldn't put it past any North American government.
        kstap
      • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

        @Mister Spock
        The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 in the UK. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/23/section/3 - the sections on Lawful Intercept are what you may want to check. Manufacturers have been complying with these government requests since the early 1990s. I must say that I envy your innocence.
        Psicotix
    • The sound you hear....

      @root12 ...is the sound of the black helicopters circling your location. Quick! Put on your tin foil hat!
      cornpie
    • Maybe

      @root12
      But if you want people to take you seriously, you should explain why you think so.
      John L. Ries
  • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

    Just FYI, 'programme' is a correct spelling of 'program' outside the USA.
    dbsteele@...
    • Correct

      @dbsteele@... You are correct about that
      kashyap.bikram@...
  • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

    What's wrong in that? Why such hamstring? With Freedom comes responsibility ... all responsible Indian citizens will not object to the Surveillance measures taken by our military and, or intelligence agencies.
    bdheeman
    • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

      @bdheeman
      The worrying thing is that the article mentions that the people being spied on were not Indian citizens but US and Chinese officials.
      Psicotix
      • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

        @Psicotix Thats not the worrying thing, it's the GOOD thing (presuming it's the American Obamaunists who are in bed with the PRC).
        Win8AnUglyDisaster
    • Such powers have been abused before

      @bdheeman <br>I don't know about the Indian government's track record on the issue, but it's all too easy to identify and harass those disinclined to support the politicians currently in office (or their parties) in the name of law-and-order or national security. Governments have also been known engage in "fishing expeditions" against those deemed "undesirable" for purposes of harrassment (or maybe just to come up with a plausible excuse to prosecute them), even if there is no real evidence of wrongdoing (a search a week is all we ask). And corrupt officials can even use surreptitiously obtained information to blackmail the subjects (of course, no honest person can ever be blackmailed), who might even be other officials.<br><br>That's why the US Constitution (among others) requires probable cause supported by sworn statements before allowing a search warrant to be issued.
      John L. Ries
      • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

        @John L. Ries Thats why we have the Second Amendment!
        Win8AnUglyDisaster
  • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

    I wonder if they aquired the Source Codes to the Zion Mainframe................????
    XxAcidxBurnxX
  • Richard Stallman was right all along

    Read this article ->

    http://www.osnews.com/story/25469/Richard_Stallman_Was_Right_All_Along

    You might start to think about what "free", as in "freedom", really means.
    sismoc
  • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

    Speaking of Richard Stallman...let's mention the writer, George Orwell. He was right as well. In his book "1984," which was written prior to the 1961 publication date. He predicted this a long time before Stallman. It is one of the reasons that there are still a few die-hards out there, who do not have anything the government can spy on them with... No PCs, cell phones, laptops, etc. Scares the hell out of them. And they thought Watergate and Clinton's sex life was bad...<br><br>Maybe they're not so wrong after all.
    Celticuser
  • Doesnt happen with Android/Linux

    Because Linux and Andriod (Now) are open source... Any such code would be eradicated quickly...

    Enjoy your govnment rooted devices, Apple users :-D... Love my Linux!
    LinuxRocks
    • Don't get too comfortable

      @LinuxRocks
      Unless you rooted your phone and can personally vouch for all of the software on it, you really don't know what's there.
      John L. Ries
  • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

    @Psicotix : India SHOULD keep a tab on all Chinese working in India, specially after what Huawei was caught doing and intelliance of of China sending assassins to harm Dalai Lama. American's can't be treated differently after what Dow and many US Insurance company fled with Indian investor money. You should not be betalking after US has such in human laws under 'Home Land Security', which puts its own citizens, specially aliens from Asia under such severe surveillance. I think Indian Spy agencies should get such powers in the interest of national security.

    I really pity on ' Lords of Dharamraja' , who should use thier hacking skills in the interest of the Nation's pride and security, instead of embarrassing it. It such a shame that every Govt actions are used for Cong Vs BJP kind of feud.
    ' Lords of Dharamraja', go ,do some good work, hack some Chinese/US establishment, at least deface Chinese sites showing Arunachal as Chinese territory. Deface Pak's site.
    ujjwalis
    • RE: Have RIM, Nokia & Apple provided Indian Military with backdoor access to cellular comm?

      @ujjwalis
      1. The article spoke of a conference in China between US and Chinese delegates - there is no reference to Chinese working in India.
      2. Your assumption that I am American is incorrect. I am assuming you are Indian.
      3. I'm British - my point was that if any national is caught spying outside their home nation on another nation's soil (in this case, Indian on US on Chinese soil) they would be in very deep trouble.
      4. Here in Europe we have had project Echolon since the 1990s listening to all telephone communication, and knowing about Lawful Intercept means that I'm not particularly bothered by it. My concern would, in your situation as an Indian national, be that the secret services have been embarrassed in this manner and their information so easily broadcast.

      I'm sure many governments around the world are hoping that the war between India and Pakistan escalates further as it can only weaken both nations and provide trade to others. Just my opinion of course.
      Psicotix