updated 12:58 pm EST, Tue December 31, 2013
Says it has 'never worked with the NSA'
Apple has never worked to install backdoors in any of its products for the National Security Agency, and was unaware of a program specifically targeting the iPhone, the company claims in a new statement. Yesterday, German publication Der Spiegel revealed that the NSA has methods of gaining backdoor access to virtually any hardware. One program, codenamed "DROPOUTJEEP," involves planting software on an iPhone to track location, send and receive files, steal text messages, contact lists and voicemail, and even turn on the microphone and camera. Leaked documents from 2008 indicate that the NSA requires "close access," meaning physical access to an iPhone it wants to spy on.
"Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone," the statement reads. "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 hear 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."
In the past months, several major American corporations have admitted to cooperating with the NSA on various levels. Apple, however, has generally denied involvement. The company would be forced to cover up at least some of its actions if it were cooperating, however, and confessing to doing so would hurt its public image. The fact that DROPOUTJEEP initially required physical access may support Apple's position, but the NSA documents also hint that future (possibly current) versions of its software could be remotely installable, something potentially involving a hard-coded backdoor.