Russia says the United States gained access to thousands of Apple phones in a spying scheme

  • Russia says the NSA hacked Apple phones in Russia
  • Apple and the NSA did not respond to requests for comment
  • Russia says there is a private backdoor in Apple phones
  • Russia says US intelligence uses big tech companies

LONDON (Reuters) – Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Thursday it had uncovered a plot by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to use previously unknown malware to gain access to so-called backdoors at Apple Inc. (AAPL.O). phones.

The FSB, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said several thousand Apple phones were infected, including those of domestic Russian subscribers.

The Russian spy agency also said the phones of foreign diplomats based in Russia and the former Soviet Union, including members of NATO, Israel, Syria and China, were targeted.

“The FSB disclosed intelligence work of the US special services using Apple mobile devices,” the FSB said in a statement.

Neither Apple nor the NSA immediately responded to emailed requests for comment outside of normal US business hours.

Software vulnerabilities

The FSB said the plot demonstrated the close relationship between Apple and the NSA, the US agency responsible for US encryption, communications intelligence and security.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The hidden data was collected through software vulnerabilities of US-made mobile phones.”

“US intelligence services have been using information technology companies for decades in order to collect large-scale data of Internet users without their knowledge,” the ministry said.

According to Harvard Belfer Center Cyber ​​2022 Energy IndexFollowed by China, Russia, the United Kingdom and Australia.

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Shortly after Russia sent troops into Ukraine last year, American and British spies claimed a scoop by revealing intelligence that President Vladimir Putin was planning an invasion — and making it public.

It remains unclear how this intelligence was obtained.

Officials in Russia, who Western spies say have set up a highly sophisticated domestic surveillance structure, have long been suspicious of the security of American technology.

Putin has always said he does not have a smartphone, although the Kremlin has said that the former KGB spy uses the Internet from time to time.

Earlier this year, the Kremlin told officials involved in preparations for Russia’s 2024 presidential election to stop using Apple iPhones over concerns the devices were vulnerable to Western intelligence agencies, Kommersant reported.

At a seminar organized by the Kremlin for officials concerned with domestic policy, Sergei Kiriyenko, the first deputy head of the presidential administration, asked officials to change their phones by April 1, Kommersant reported, citing unidentified sources.

Written by Guy Faulconbridge Editing by Gareth Jones and Mark Potter

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Jay Faulconbridge

Thomson Reuters

As Moscow bureau chief, Jay directs coverage of Russia and the CIS. Prior to Moscow, Jay ran coverage of Brexit as Head of the London Bureau (2012-2022). On the night of Brexit, his team scored one of Reuters’ historic victories – bringing the news of Brexit first to the world and financial markets. Jay graduated from the London School of Economics and started his career as an intern at Bloomberg. He has spent more than 14 years covering the former Soviet Union. He speaks Russian fluently. Contact: +44 782 521 8698

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