Apple on Tuesday released a statement saying it has never worked with the National Security Agency (NSA) to create a “backdoor” for the government. According to a report this week, a spying program called DROPOUTJEEP gave the NSA access to any Apple iPhone, though the documents cited were from 2008; the same program gave the agency access to other devices communicating through GSM as well. Other exploits from the NSA reportedly allowed the agency to hijack Wi-Fi from up to eight miles away.
Below is Apple’s statement to TechCrunch in full:
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. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we heard about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.
The report originated from Der Spiegel on Sunday, and claimed the NSA had a Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit that is capable of gaining access to foreign computer systems for national security purposes. Additionally, Der Spiegel claimed a separate division within NSA, known as ANT, put information together about hacking consumer electronics, which includes a number of devices and different methods. The reason people suspected Apple had cooperated was Der Spiegel’s claim that the NSA could snoop on iPhones with “100% success,” suggesting the Cupertino company set up a backdoor.
Since reports began circulating about the NSA, a number of big name tech companies immediately distanced themselves from the agency; Apple, AOL, Yahoo, Twitter, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google and Facebook even requested a global government surveillance reform. Since the alleged document cited by Der Spiegel was dated back in 2008, it’s unclear where the program stands now.
In Apple’s statement, the company makes it clear it has never cooperated with the NSA, and is constantly improving upon the security of its devices. So while Apple is supposedly working on keeping “malicious hackers” out, the agency could very well be tapping into your device (iPhone or otherwise).