A new report from The Intercept claims that both the CIA and British intelligence have, for years, been working hard to skirt around the “layers of encryption” that Apple has implemented on the iPhone.
The revelations, sourced from Edward Snowden, detail for the first time just how laser focused the CIA has been in not only cracking encryption on the iPhone, but on the Mac as well.
By targeting essential security keys used to encrypt data stored on Apple’s devices, the researchers have sought to thwart the company’s attempts to provide mobile security to hundreds of millions of Apple customers across the globe. Studying both “physical” and “non-invasive” techniques, U.S. government-sponsored research has been aimed at discovering ways to decrypt and ultimately penetrate Apple’s encrypted firmware.
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The report further details how CIA and its British counterparts typically gather together at an annual conference where they discuss new strategies and methods for compromising the fortified security on the iPhone. One such method centered on a modified version of Apple’s Xcode development software which was theoretically able to install backdoors onto infected devices, disable security mechanisms, and send ostensibly encrypted data back to a U.S. intelligence “listening post.” Another proposed strategy involved a spoofed version of an OS X update.
While there’s no indication as to how successful the CIA’s efforts to hack the iPhone have been, this report along with others make it crystal clear that Apple hardware remains a high priority target for American and British Intelligence agencies.
Just a few weeks ago, we reported on how the NSA and the British GCHQ were able to steal the encryption keys for millions of smartphone SIM cards, including the iPhone.