National Security Agency documents leaked to German news magazine, Der Spiegel, describe an NSA program called DROPOUTJEEP, which gives the agency backdoor access to nearly everything on Apple’s iphone such as remote activation of the camera and microphone, SMS and contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation and cell tower location (with SMS and GPRS functionality).
On Monday, the day after the documents were leaked by Der Spiegel, independent journalist and security expert, Jacob Appelbaum, told a hacker conference in Germany that the NSA could turn iPhones into eavesdropping tools and use radar waves to collect information from computers, even when offline.
He assured conference goers that his revelations “are even worse than your worst nightmares.” Appelbaum’s slides appear to have come from an official NSA presentation. One slide described a piece of equipment called NIGHTSTAND, which can tamper with wireless Internet connections from up to 8 miles (13 kilometers) away.
Another official document called QUANTUMTHEORY claims that every attempt by the NSA at iOS access is successful, which led Appelbaum to question whether Apple assisted the NSA with installing the implants.
DROPOUTJEEP involves a software implant designed specifically for the iphone. The implant is currently being installed at close-distances using a variety of methods but the NSA is pursuing remote access capability as well.
Yesterday Apple denied having any knowledge of the iphone spyware: “Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them,” the company said in a statement to AllThingsD.
An NSA spokeswoman, Vanee Vines, told the AP that she wasn’t aware of Appelbaum’s presentation and wouldn’t comment on “alleged foreign intelligence activities.”
“As we’ve said before, NSA’s focus is on targeting the communications of valid foreign intelligence targets — not on collecting and exploiting a class of communications or services that would sweep up communications that are not of bona fide foreign intelligence interest to the U.S. government,” she said.
Neither Appelbaum nor Der Spiegel has verified if Edward Snowden is behind the latest leaks.