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CIA worked to hack Apple devices for many years: report

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has conducted "a multi-year, sustained effort" to break the security of Apple's iPhones and iPads, a report from The Intercept, a U.S. news website, said Tuesday.

The report, citing top-secret documents provided by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, said the effort began in 2006, a year before the first iPhone was released.

The documents from Snowden detailed a "physical" and "non- invasive" techniques, including creating a modified version of Xcode, Apple's software development tool, to plant surveillance backdoors into apps or programs sold through Apple's App Store.

CIA researchers also claimed they had successfully modified the OS X updater, a program used to deliver updates to laptop and desktop computers, to install a "keylogger," which records all of the keys typed on a keyboard.

These tactics and achievements were presented by the security researchers at a secret annual gathering called the "Jamboree," which was sponsored by the CIA's Information Operations Center, the report said.

NSA personnel also participated in the conference that aims to "exploit new avenues of attack."

U.S. intelligence agencies have also created capabilities against dozens of other commercially produced security products, including those made by American companies, to seek out vulnerabilities, the report said.

The documents do not address how successful the effort has been, nor do they provide any detail about the specific use of such exploits by U.S. intelligence, said The Intercept.

But targeting Apple's encryption mechanisms is consistent with a much broader secret U.S. government program to hack "secure communications products, both foreign and domestic," using a " black budget," the report quoted a 2013 Congressional Budget Justification as saying.

Matthew Green, a cryptography expert at Johns Hopkins University's Information Security Institute told the website that the CIA effort "seems to be going a bit beyond 'targeting bad guys '" and that "If you can attack Apple, then you can probably attack anyone."

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 10Mar15]

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Privacy and counterintelligence
small logoThis document has been published on 13Mar15 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.