The US Central Intelligence Agency propagated a ‘multi-year, sustained effort’ to crack the security of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, a new report reveals.
The news is the latest in a series of revelations borne from a host of leaked documents outed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
According to the latest leak, as revealed by The Intercept, the CIA used a number of initiatives to compromise the security of Apple’s mobile devices.
The report details one such initiative where spies at the CIA attempted to crack encryption keys built into Apple’s mobile chip. Those keys help keep information on a mobile device safe and secure from prying eyes.
The security service also attempted to compromise Xcode, the Apple tool that’s used to create the lion’s share of iOS applications.
“If US products are OK to target, that’s news to me,” said Matthew Green, a cryptography expert at Johns Hopkins University’s Information Security Institute.
“Tearing apart the products of US manufacturers and potentially putting backdoors in software distributed by unknowing developers all seems to be going a bit beyond ‘targeting bad guys’. It may be a means to an end, but it’s a hell of a means.”
There’s no evidence of any successful operations against Apple, so it’s difficult to tell at this point whether the CIA actually cracked any of the tech company’s software or hardware.
This does, however, highlight the ongoing campaign by the US government against technology companies in terms of privacy workarounds.
“The revelations that the CIA has waged a secret campaign to defeat the security mechanisms built into Apple’s devices come as Apple and other tech giants are loudly resisting pressure from senior US and UK government officials to weaken the security of their products,” wrote Intercept journalists Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley.
It’s worth noting that US President Barack Obama hit out at China earlier this month for its plans to force technology firms to create backdoors for government surveillance schemes.
The CIA reportedly declined to comment on the story.