Report: Apple denies ever creating NSA backdoor to iPhone

Report: Apple denies ever creating NSA backdoor to iPhone

Summary: In a memo to TechCrunch, the iPhone maker denies ever offering the NSA with special access to its special smartphone.

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Even as the news slows down to mostly just reflections and top 10 lists covering hot topics over the last year, the NSA revelations haven't slowed down a bit.

Following a new report from Der Spiegel revealing NSA spyware embedded on hardware sources, tech giants such as Cisco, Western Digital and Seagate have quickly denied any compliance with the controverisal inteillgence methods.

Now Apple has come out with another line of defense on its own, centered around its prized flagship product of the moment, the iPhone, and the newly discovered NSA unit for accessing foreign computer systems, Tailored Access Operations (a.k.a. TAO).

A new Der Spiegel article on Monday alleged that the NSA had virtually 100 percent access to all communications being delivered in and out of the iOS smartphones around the world.

TechCrunch published a memo this morning said to be directly from Cupertino itself, denying creating any secret backdoors and denouncing the National Security Agency at the same time.

Here is a snippet from the memo:

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.

To recall, Apple was one of the nine tech giants noted as sources for the NSA's data-mining program, PRISM, which was first reported back in June by The Guardian and The Washington Post.

Those reports, and many subsequent scoops by other publications such as Der Spiegel and The New York Times, have been based on the documents leaked by former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden.

Apple, as well as all of the other companies cited as sources for the NSA's programs, has continuously denied any involvement or compliance.

Topics: Government, Apple, Data Management, iPhone, Security

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21 comments
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  • Continuous denial is equal to 100% confession

    It will be wise for Apple to disclose all the contracts it had with government, otherwise, the more they deny, the more people will distrust them, and when the "traitor" reveal the documents showing actual collaboration between Apple and NSA, Apple's sales will drop significantly, even though it's unrealistic to boycott all US It products, but the eco system will change, and one day, people will realize that many IT products are designed and produced overseas, but by then, it is too late, US economy will be ruined.

    With all the cr*p coming out everyday, the US government showed zero concern for the US economy, and its workers!

    If I compete against US firms, I will be laughing to death.
    Warren Bigley
    • You are assuming Apple is allowed to do so.

      I know you have been told your entire life that governments are the pawns of corporations, so it is very hard for you to comprehend that a business is completely powerless against the power of the state. But, it is true. The conversation goes something like this: "You want to not mention any of this to anyone, because I'm sure the IRS, OSHA, the Labor Department, and the EPA can find all sorts of things to investigate you on."
      baggins_z
      • But Apple did give the NSA a back door

        1. The back door is there.

        2. The NSA uses that back door

        3. Others can demonstrate control of the iPhone camera via the back door.

        So we are not arguing whether or not there is a back door (as there is). We are arguing over who is to blame for the back door. Apple is basically saying that it did not "deliberately" give the NSA a "secret" back door.

        No, it's not secret, as we all know about it.

        Did Apple just turn a blind eye? Or did Apple just incorporate lax security into the iPhone?

        Whichever way it works out, Apple let the NSA come into the iPhone.
        Vbitrate
    • Continuous denial is equal to 100% confession? That's so McCarthy of you.

      So every person ever on trial who continues to claim their innocence is really saying "I'm guilty"?

      So all I need say is that "Warren Bigley is a paid Google shill" and that leaves you with 2 options -

      1) admit that you are paid by Google to shill for them.

      2) deny you are paid to shill for them, which by your standards means you are indeed 100% a paid Google shill.

      Or Maybe Apple, MS, Cisco, Oracle, ect really HAVEN'T created a back door for the NSA?
      William.Farrel
    • You need to look at Android even closer.

      It's well known and proven that ole Google is the top financial contributor to the US government in the technology sector by many multiples, It's also well known and proven that Google reads and retains EVERYTHING that you text, call, Email, search, surf, etc, and they'll even tell you they do. Nice little database for the NSA to cull info from.
      cheydaddy
  • ROFL

    NSA is powerful and tech companies can't reject them.
    Mac_Win
  • Backdoow

    Well then close the door.
    fdhealy4
    • i just checked and there's no backdoor on my iPhone

      nt
      greywolf7
      • Check again

        I want to see if there is a front door on the phone
        Loverock.Davidson
        • i was being literal

          nt
          greywolf7
  • and if the NSA can do it without Apple creating a backdoor ...

    So can all the hackers. Who do you think creates this stuff anyway, the NSA just stole it from hackers.
    greywolf7
  • I sorta kinda believe Apple

    I mean, let's all be honest here. Apple isn't exactly good at security despite all their crowing about no viruses for macs.
    blarelli
  • Report: Apple denies ever creating NSA backdoor to iPhone

    Apple wouldn't need to create a backdoor for the iPhone. The NSA is smart enough to tap into the data of the cell carriers and other big companies. Knowing them they probably have several models of phones they do nothing but test/hack on.
    Loverock.Davidson
  • Yep. iOS 1.0. This information is very very old.

    And it required physical access to the device.
    Bruizer
  • I'm starting to believe much of this info being "discovered" is fabricated

    What better why to up the readership then to start writing stories like these in you publications, claiming "we reviewed these documents and..." but have yet to see any of these documents displayed?

    And what more perfect subject could you be writing about then an organization like the NSA, who will nether confirm nor deny anything?

    With all the people that would be involved in this, the from OEM's to delivery companies, from geeks and nerds, from the tech fixing a bad part of the hardware, and no ones ever, ever, ever stumbled across even a tiny, tiny piece of this, considering the "grand scale" that they appear to be implying?

    What are the odds?
    William.Farrel
    • It is extremely unlikely that Snoden had access to all the info it claims

      He keeps claiming things that even with clearance he would not have access to because all access is limited to the work he was doing.

      I honestly doubt he had access to everything he claims and would not be surprised to find out that 90%+ of it is fabricated.
      wackoae
  • Google worse than NSA

    Privacy is more important now than ever before. We may not be able to hide from the NSA, but we can stop using sites like Facebook and Google. Just think about it. If you care so much about your privacy, if you are outraged by all of the NSA spying, then WHY are you using facebook and google. Those companies are just as bad, if not worse, than the NSA. This is why I advocate using privacy-based sites such as DuckDuckGo, Ravetree, HushMail, etc.
    chrisp114
  • Your device is the "virus."

    If I had money and access to the talented people, I'd be creating a new corporation to take advantage of the current situation. First off, I be designing a bare-bones operating system that just works as the motto used to go. I'd harden it, so it purposely couldn't be "updated." ROM chips come to mind. The products would only do a very few things, very specific. They wouldn't have all the bells and whistles. They'd just have base functionality that was as guaranteed as it could be. I'd produce my products in some other country that still has respect for privacy, its citizens and its customers. Clearly the good-ole US of A isn't it anymore and the greed driven delusional corporate dictatorship world isn't helping either.

    I'm having trust issues at this point in time. My country has broken my trust. Apple has broken my trust. Microsoft did that a long time ago which originally caused me to move over to Apple. I guess it's all part of the cycle. Clearly we are in a very malicious and destructive cycle of business and politics. And, we are the heart of the problem.

    I have a lot of Apple products to phase out. The first to go is my iPhone that Apple disabled with its last upgrade. I like to make my choices good or bad. I don't like a corporation making decisions for me. Apple is most assuredly culpable in all this. It is clearly driven by greed, status and delusion too at this point... not innovation and customer satisfaction.

    I am one of those early adopter people when I see something that I think represents great work and potential. I'm also an early dumper when I see garbage and malicious controlling intent.

    RIP Steve Jobs.
    NSAAppleSoft
  • New South Korea or maybe Japanese tech boom...

    I wonder what country is best positioned to take advantage of the fact that the made in the USA brand is now on a world par with the flu.

    On a side note... let's see, paying for a subscription to some sort of cloud based "service," paying for the licenses and all that so that I don't own it and give up my privacy... what was I paying for again? I just converted as much of my music to MP3 as possible. It was amazing how much of "my music" I still didn't own. And, much of it I only own if my internet connection is working making me dependent. I don't like dependence especially with exploitative entities.
    NSAAppleSoft
  • Backdoor

    From a security standpoint, a vulnerability is not a backdoor in its pure sense. If you want an example of a backdoor, look to Huawei. They have allocated ports and login credentials that are unaffected by the user configs; something the user is both unaware of and unable to change. That is a backdoor.

    Lest we start screaming about Windows and just about every other connected OS, a vulnerability is not a backdoor.

    Also, board-only access such as JTAG is not a public backdoor. You can't unknowingly hack your own system once you've got it. Things like this do however bring to the surface the risks in trusting used security hardware.

    Off the top of my head, I'm not sure what the factual risk is in a used smart phone such as an iPhone, where a "restore" re-flashes Apple's genuine firmware back onto the device. Thus far, I'm not aware of any area to store permanent malicious code within an iPhone that's not erased upon using the "restore" feature. Doesn't mean it's not possible. In the PC world, viruses capable of infecting the BIOS or HDD firmware are brutal. They are certainly a newer breed that has yet to see much news coverage.
    ct2193@...