More than this, it claims that Apple assisted the NSA by providing backdoor access into iPhones …
NSA hacked iPhones, claims Russia
Reuters reports that the claim was made by the FSB – the successor to the Soviet-era KGB.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Thursday it had uncovered a U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) plot using previously unknown malware to access specially made so-called backdoor vulnerabilities in Apple phones.
The FSB […] said that several thousand Apple phones had been infected, including those of domestic Russian subscribers.
The Russian spy agency also said telephones belonging to foreign diplomats based in Russia and the former Soviet Union, including those from NATO members, Israel, Syria and China, had been targetted […]
The FSB said the plot showed the close relationship between Apple and the NSA.
The report implies that it’s possible phone-hacking was the source of intelligence on the invasion of Ukraine.
Shortly after Russia sent its troops into Ukraine last year, U.S. and British spies claimed a scoop by uncovering – and going public with – intelligence that President Vladimir Putin was planning to invade. It is still unclear how that intelligence was gained.
Earlier this year, the Russian government told its own officials to stop using iPhones, with a deadline of April 1. Putin has said that he doesn’t use any kind of smartphone.
A claim that US secret services hacked iPhones in order to learn of Russia’s war plans is, in itself, credible. Given the NSA’s record of spying on even its own citizens, then the involvement of that organization would likewise be unsurprising.
However, Russian propaganda is rife, so any FSB claims should be treated with considerable skepticism.
In this particular case, Russia has effectively torpedoed its own claim by suggesting that Apple assisted the NSA with backdoor access into iPhones. Given that the company was willing to take on the FBI in its refusal to do so, the idea that it would do the same for the NSA simply doesn’t hold water.
While Western intelligence agencies may well have used spyware like Pegasus or Graphite to hack iPhones belonging to Russian officials, the specifics of this claim put it firmly into propaganda territory.
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