New claims NSA can access data on iOS, Android, BlackBerry

New claims NSA can access data on iOS, Android, BlackBerry

Summary: US spy agency the NSA boasted internally of being able to unlock encrypted data on smartphones by leading manufacturers, a German news magazine has reported.


Der Spiegel has reported that it has obtained National Security Agency (NSA) documents in which the agency states it accessed data from Apple iPhones, BlackBerry devices, and phones that use Google's Android operating system.

Der Spiegel said most smartphone data can be extracted, including users' contact lists, text message logs, and information on geographical locations.

The NSA had set up working parties to ensure that each of the main operating systems had a "back door" accessible to spies, the magazine said. Critics warned that hackers may one day discover the NSA's "back doors" and exploit them for crime.

Information leaked this year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that shed light on the extent of US electronic surveillance has sparked international outrage.

In Germany, it has stirred memories of totalitarianism, still raw 68 years after the Nazis and the communist era.

Canada-based BlackBerry, which has sold its devices to many governments by advertising that the encryption is too strong for anyone to crack, could be commercially affected if it is proved that a weakness does exist.

Der Spiegel said the NSA is able to penetrate iPhone data via the owner's personal computer after their data had been synchronised.

On Saturday, the latest protest against US spying in Germany drew at least 10,000 participants to Berlin.

It came after reports that software companies using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology, employed worldwide in browsers for online commerce and in corporate networks, had been induced to install "back doors", sometimes knowingly and sometimes without realising it.

Der Spiegel is expected to release the documents on Monday.

Topics: Security, Government, Government US

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  • T1Oracle isn't going to like this.

    "The NSA had set up working parties to ensure that each of the main operating systems had a "back door" accessible to spies, the magazine said." Apple iPhones, BlackBerry devices, and phones that use Google's Android operating system."

    And here he repeatedly claimed it was only MS that did this, everyone else said "no".

    I guess he's out shopping for a condiment that goes good on crow. :)
    William Farrel
    • This can't be true

      ios is UNIX and Android is Linux, 2 impenetrable OSs from what we've been told.

      Gee, I sure hope we weren't lied to.
      • What do you mean we, paleface?

        Anyone who doubts the capacity of black-budgeted intelligence organization to achieve a specific, if short-sighted, goal over enough fiscal years hasn't studied much history.
        • Not him

          he didn't claim that. It was T1Oracle, please tell it to him.
          Ram U
        • I doubt there's any backdoor in the Linux kernel.

          The Linux kernel is released under GPLv2, and so any "backdoor" code in the kernel would need to be published. (And if it weren't, then "The Real Bad Guys" would just compile clean kernels of their own from the source and remove the backdoor anyway. Remember that the NSA is presumably out to catch "The Real Bad Guys", and isn't interested in spying on Grandma.)

          Mind you, there's a lot of other code in Android besides the Linux kernel, and I don't know what license it's all released under. Any proprietary blobs would be a place to start looking for backdoors.
          • Plausible Deniability

            How you anyone know there was a backdoor if were disguised as a bug? The coder could just say "oops, software is hard." Who would doubt such a statement? Anyone who did would be labeled as paranoid.

            The code doesn't need to be:
            if(user == nsa) let_in();

            It could be something much more subtle, like something that cuts cryptographic channels from 2^256 possibilities to 2^56 possibilities.
          • Regardless, someone would find and fix it.

            The patch would then be accepted and applied, and you'd be back to square one.
      • Anything can be hacked

        Given enough resources.
        Alan Smithie
      • Your sarcasm is noted, however ...

        ... it's worth noting that the NSA didn't actually access the iPhone/iOS data _on_the_iDevice -- they access the synchronized data from the user's desktop. That's a subtle but BIG difference.

        If an iDevice user only backs up their iDevice to iCloud, theoretically there would be no traces for the NSA to go after ... at least, not without a search warrant or similar request.

        But realistically, this is the NSA's job -- they're supposed to find ways to spy on people. True, we're supposed to be able to trust them that they'll only use their powers for good -- to spy on the bad guys -- but bad guys use iPhones and Galaxy S4s and Windows Phones, etc.
  • Be afraid, be very afraid

    Not that the NSA can do it but that others can as well if not already, very soon. I don't just mean governments but just about anyone who has the time and inclination to find the door.
  • people, do something with the fascistic US gov!!!!

    people, do something with the fascistic US gov!!!!
    this is not about terrorism, this is about power and controlling people!

    trust just Open source (Android cyanogenmod)!

    closed systems like Windows + iPhones/iPads have NSA back doors for sure!!
    • "Back doors" aren't even needed.

      This media focus on the possibility of "back doors" is misguided at best, intentionally misleading at worst. The fact is, they don't need back doors to get into our devices and systems. They can do it without a back door. This entire media farce is likely an effort by the NSA to misdirect attention from their real activities. Think about it. First, they leak information that there are "back doors." Then, once a frenzy builds, they offer verifiable proof that there are no back doors. This revelation will give sheeple a false sense of security, once again. Then, it's back to business as usual, with nobody the wiser. We are talking about an organization that is the definitive master of subterfuge and misdirection. Trust no one, particularly from the U.S. government.
      • just ask Microsoft about Skype and the access by NSA

        just ask Microsoft about Skype and the access by NSA
        Microsoft will be probably the same with Windows
        just logic
        with Android its very difficult to keep it in secret

        and of course I know that there is enough to access the providers of the apps I have in my phone

        but its not important, the important is to show everything what NSA can do whenever the want = fascism
  • Many use open SSL

    If a backdoor is present it will be found, because the hunt started just now :-)
  • old news, irleaks reported this a year ago

    finspy is bigger than prism, it accesses your home computer's webcam too, people dont believe until they have it happen to them
  • Blackberry

    My BBerry is safe ... I know this for sure.