Kremlin accuses Apple of helping NSA spy on diplomats via iPhone backdoor
The Kremlin Federal Security Service (FSB) has accused Apple of colluding with US spies to install a backdoor on iPhones and spy on thousands of diplomats worldwide. This comes after Kaspersky had earlier revealed that it found spyware on “several dozen” iPhones belonging to Kremlin middle and top management.
However, the security company has said that it has no way to prove if the two incidents are related.
"Although the attacks look similar, we are unable to verify this as we don't have technical details on what has been reported by the FSB so far," the spokesperson said.
According to Russian Intelligence, Apple either told the NSA of vulnerabilities that can be exploited on the iPhones or deliberately installed the vulnerabilities. The NSA then installed its spyware on devices belonging to diplomats and embassies of Russia, NATO members, ex-Soviet nations, Israel, China, and others.
The Kremlin said that Apple cooperated not just with the NSA, but also US intelligence services to help agents spy on targets.
"In the course of ensuring the security of the Russian telecommunications infrastructure, anomalies were identified that are specific only to users of Apple mobile phones and are caused by the operation of previously unknown malicious software that uses software vulnerabilities provided by the manufacturer. It was found that several thousand telephone sets of this brand were infected," the FSB claimed.
The NSA is yet to comment on the matter although Apple has responded by saying it has never colluded with a government agency to install a backdoor on its devices and it never will.
Kremlin has not provided evidence to support their claim although it won’t be surprising considering America’s history of spying on foreign states and its citizens. However, what would be interesting is if Apple actually worked with the NSA to facilitate the said espionage.
Representatives from Kaspersky have said they conducting further investigation on the malware they found, but based on first impression the malware was planted by very skilled professionals.
"The sophistication of the attack, usage of undocumented iOS features, and the complexity of the payload clearly indicate that very high-skilled professionals are behind it, backed up by a significant budget with barely pure criminal intentions," the spokesman said.