US body probes RIM, Nokia, Apple backdoor claims

The US-China Commission is investigating allegations that RIM, Nokia, and Apple provided backdoor access to Indian military intelligence, enabling the interception of US-China Commission emails
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

A US government body is investigating allegations that mobile device manufacturers Apple, RIM and Nokia allowed Indian military intelligence backdoor access to communications in exchange for Indian market presence.

The United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) is in the process of determining whether emails from its officials were intercepted with the help of back doors into technology from Apple, RIM and Nokia.

"We are aware of these reports and have contacted relevant authorities to investigate the matter," USCC congressional liaison Jonathan Weston told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. "We are unable to make further comments at this time."

Apple denied the allegations in a statement on Tuesday.

"I am going to decline to comment further but can deny that backdoor access was provided," an Apple spokesman told ZDNet UK on Tuesday.

Indian intelligence team

The allegations surfaced in purported Indian military documents posted on image-sharing site imgur.com by a group calling themselves The Lords of Dharmaraja. The documents, which were linked to in a cached Pastebin document on Wednesday, allege that an Indian military intelligence data intercept team called 'Cycada' intercepted USCC emails with the aid of back doors provided by RIM, Nokia and Apple.

In addition, the documents allege that Symantec passed source code to the Indian military, as part of a surveillance platform. The Lords of Dharmaraja said they found Symantec source code when accessing Indian military intelligence servers.

Symantec said on Friday that hackers had accessed source code for Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) 11.0 and Symantec Antivirus 10.2, two older versions of its enterprise security products.

RIM declined to comment specifically on the allegations that it had provided a back door. It said on Tuesday that it did not make "special deals for specific countries" for BlackBerry services. RIM said it gave carriers the means to provide police and other law enforcement authorities with lawful access to BlackBerry communications.

The company added that it could not provide customer keys to encrypted BlackBerry Enterprise Server communications.

Nokia had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

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