According to those slides the NSA was able to access a wide range of functions in the iPhone including location information and tracking. According to Apple the tracking bug was fixed in mid-2011, but there are some indications that location information can still be harvested and a movement pattern generated. Apple is just not storing your information in the same manner they were before. Other interesting bits from the slides are that the NSA can access and pull data from contacts, photos, phone call records, SMS messages and more. To add insult to injury the NSA can inject scripts into the backups made by iTunes on a user’s local PC to gather even more information. In all more than 38 different subsystems and features can be accessed on the iPhone by the NSA.
Today Apple launched two new phones, an entry level product and the follow on to the iPhone 5. Apple is touting that the new iPhone 5s will have a 64-bit based CPU (ARM) and will also have a new security feature; a fingerprint scanner under the home button. This announcement sparked some concern today as some think that this might now be used by the NSA to collect biometric information from phone users. Although there is no evidence that this information is accessible by third parties at this time there is certainly cause for concern if the slides released by Snowden are true. If the Apple iPhone is so thoroughly pwned by the NSA then there is no telling what type of information might be accessible.
In the end, although the NSA is to blame, phone manufacturers did not put much is any thought into the building of their devices. They all (Google, Microsoft, Apple) are vulnerable in significant ways. The openings left by the Operating System Developers and hardware manufacturers are what gave the NSA such open and unfettered access to our mobile data in the first place. The failure of their designs and the lack of any real security on these devices made them open targets for anyone to get into. Maybe we are all lucky that it was the NSA and not someone even more malicious that gained this level of access. The NSA might want to flip through your pics, read your texts and emails, but they are not trying to steal money from you or your identity. Apple might be the belle of the NSA Spying Ball when it comes to Smartphones, but every maker and OS developer is just as guilt for allowing this to happen.
Information on NSA control over Apple iPhone from Der Spiegel
Tell us what you think in our Forum