back to article Snowden SLAMS iPhone, claims 'special software' tracks users

Word out of Russia is that whistleblower Edward Snowden refuses to use an Apple iPhone over fears that the handsets are built to remotely track and transmit data about users. The famed engineer-turned-leaker's attorney apparently told Russian state media that Snowden believes the Apple handset contains remote management and …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    Wow. I didn't know The Register did bias.

    1. PleebSmash

      What are you talking about, this is a balanced piece as far as Snowden related news goes. There's no anti-Snowden jibe, and you are allowed to decide for yourself if the timing of the iPhone talk is more than a coincidence. Reg is innocent.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, of course they do bias. Have you never read a Lewis Page or Andrew O article?

      However, I fail to see great evidence of bias in this, seems quite sceptical to me. This is the sort of article that the Register does very well.

    3. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Strange how the US Gov hates strong encryption, but allows SSL and AES to roam freely.

      The only deduction is they have free access to both and that is scary when combined with other technology.

  2. John Robson Silver badge

    So outside Russia are we allowed to know about this law

    or does the data have to remain in Russia?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So outside Russia are we allowed to know about this law

      What? You talking about the data, or the law? I think if the data is store publicly/unclassified then the data is supposed to remain in borders. Either way, if you're using an iOS or Android DEVICE, you can be tracked 24/7 in any country if the data remains classified. This is a win/win situation. Apple can get more data on you (due to an yet to be discovered "bug"), and countries can get more data on you.

      The 1st rule of Greed Club, don't tell anyone about Greed Club, do you know the 2nd rule? Yep. For the first time in a long time, we are witnessing perpetual spin of lies that makes money for secretive purposes hush money and wars. What's scary to me about this time in history, is that it seems ALL governments agree on this, so who can contest...

  3. Jones

    Snow Day

    "whether security experts are aware of it, or who would have the capability to view the "information" gathered"

    If Snowden knows about a vulnerability before everyone else, would that make it a Snow-day exploit? As opposed to zero-day...

  4. DN4

    tracking software in iPhone

    Probably just baseless Russian propaganda. Also, it is probably true...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "He's got a simple phone"

    So he's not using Android, either.

    It said he BELIEVES this software exists, which is probably a reasonable belief given how many revelations he had about the amount of spying, and cooperation from big companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others. He probably believes the same about Android. He may well be right - Android is only partially open source, after all, and Apple being closed source would have no difficulty including this.

    Though given the black eye all the tech firms took when their cooperation with PRISM was revealed, and their more recent moves that have upset the spies, if they were cooperating in this way in the past it is less likely they're still doing so now.

    Anyway, other than using a dumbphone, there's not much we can do about this...

    1. PleebSmash

      Re: "He's got a simple phone"

      CyanogenMod is open source, right? Firefox OS?

      In Snowden's case using a dumbphone or just not communicating much at all seems likely.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: "He's got a simple phone"

      How about no phone at all? Extreme, yes.

    3. Law

      Re: "He's got a simple phone"

      He's probably using a winphone... nobody seems to be writing software for it these days. :(

    4. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: DougS Re: "He's got a simple phone"

      ".....other than using a dumbphone....." But, don't those 'dumbphones' all run proprietary code? I mean, do you even know what your old Nokia 3310 was actually running in the background.... it's not like they're crystal radio sets - even 'dumbphones' run an OS and you have virtually SFA chance of detecting any 'dial-home' nasties hidden in that proprietary code.

      /so much fun tweaking the tinfoil.

  6. Jan 0 Silver badge

    Maybe it's because he can't afford a smartphone.

    Is Snowden doing any paid work in Russia or just getting by with a little help from friends?

    He's done a great job for us all, but how's he earning a crust nowadays? Russian minimum wage is only 5,554 Rubles pcm, which is about 77 Euros - that won't leave a lot of disposable income for shiny toys.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe it's because he can't afford a smartphone.

      He seems to have been pretty well prepared for what would happen, presumably he had saved some of the money he was making and stashed it outside the reach of US banking authority.

  7. Crazy Operations Guy

    "too difficult for local and federal police."

    That's just what they want you to think...

  8. Bob Dole (tm)

    If I were the NSA and there was a lot of blowback from my nifty spying program then I would make some real loud noises and throw a fit about how I can no longer do my job... While continuing to send those fun secret letters to corporations demanding their data and silence.

    The businesses in turn could *claim* that they are no longer playing ball, when in fact they are legally forced to.

    It would make for pretty good cover. Honestly, they ought to be thanking snowden for "outing" them as they can continue business as usual while everyone thinks they stopped.

    My my what a rabbit hole this could be. At the end of the day you have to trust someone. The problem is there aren't any viable candidates.

  9. Binnacle

    documented undocumented backdoor APIs

    Snowden is correct, as security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski revealed last summer:

    The backdoor APIs require installation of a RAT for actual exploitation, but of course the NSA and various LEAs have either their own or commercially provided tools of this nature. Physical access to the target phone or social engineering of the device's owner is presumably required to install the tools, but (esp w/r/t the NSA) you can never be certain.

    Perhaps with iOS 8 the APIs have been removed or--due to comprehensive encryption--rendered ineffective. The FBI has squealed like a stuck-pig over it, so it could be the case.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: documented undocumented backdoor APIs

      The blog contains many references to things that stopped working after iOS 4 (current version is iOS 8). To allow attacks through a computer to which the phone is attached requires possession of the phone and unlocking of the phone. If you are worried, use a 10 digit or 8 digit + letter passcode.

      "With the NSA you can never be certain" is pure conjecture.

      What was true up to iOS 7 was that Apple (and only Apple), given your phone and a search warrant, could brute force your passcode at a rate of ten attempts per second. Which means the standard 4 digit code is cracked easily in 15 minutes, 10 digit or 8 digit + letter is safe within your life time.

  10. werdsmith Silver badge

    Somebody might be able to track where my phone it?

    Great news, maybe they can help me find the bloody thing.

  11. Google

    In the mean time GHCQ/NSA is happily eavesdropping on journalists:

    Where's your news item on this, Vultures?

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Google

      ".....Where's your news item on this, Vultures?" They probably missed it on account of how hard they were trying to not see this bit of news ( Yes, Tinfoilers, read it and weep - the UK and USA at number 1 and 2!

  12. mhenriday
    Big Brother

    Too bad you didn't remind us three times, Shaun !

    «... attorney Anatoly Kucherena told the English-language Sputnik News, a division of state-run news agency Rossiya Segodnya.


    The Sputnik News article – which we remind you, dear reader, was generated by state-run media – ...»

    If you really want'ed to convince us, you should have made an extra effort and followed the path taken by the Bellman :

    «Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:

    That alone should encourage the crew.

    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:

    What I tell you three times is true.»


  13. jrdld

    So Russian state media is somehow untrustworthy, but our state media isn't?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Comrade Snowden has spoken. He is the authority on all!

    (sarcasm intended)

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