[UPDATE: It now seems likely that these documents are fake.]
Hackers claim to have uncovered documents that claim mobile handset makers RIM, Nokia and Apple provided the Indian intelligence services with backdoor access to spy on communications. But is there any substance to this claim
My ZDNet colleague Manan Kakkar has the details, along with copies of the documents, but for your convenience I'll pick out the two excerpts of interest:
To help you keep up, MM stands for 'mobile manufacturers' and RINOA stands for RIM, Nokia and Apple. I also believe that 'MI' stands for 'Mobile Infrastructure.'
Well, for starters, these are random documents from an unknown source, so that instantly makes my BS detector tingling. The hacking group, which go by the name of Lords of Dharmaraja,' that released these documents also claim to have the source code for the Norton Antivirus product, and while they've posted some information over on Pastebin (now deleted but a Google cache copy still exists). While Symantec has confirmed that the source code released was indeed part of an older Norton product (around four or five years old), none of that does anything to prove the validity of the documents released.
But would Apple, RIM or Nokia put backdoors into their hardware? We simply don't know. The rules regarding lawful interception vary the world over and it is entire possible that the Indian intelligence services did ask for backdoors, and that these backdoors were made available. After all, India is a big market and no player would want to be shut out.
Make sense, right? Yes, but making sense and being true are two entirely separate things.
I'm also automatically wary of backdoor stories. They're not new and are almost always sensationalist nonsense without a shred of proof. If I believed them all, I'd never touch an electronic gadget every again!
The truth is that unless we can be shown something concrete that this backdoor exists - a single line of code would do me - it's all speculation. We're building a house of cards based on a document of dubious origins, released by an unknown group of people who may or may not have a hidden agenda.
That's not much to go on.