Recently revealed documents show the US National Security Agency has the capability of deploying software implants on Apple’s iPhone that grants remote access to on-board assets like SMS messages, location data and microphone audio. Security researcher Jacob Applebaum summarized the NSA’s iPhone-targeting spyware program called “DROPOUTJEEP” as part of a broader discussion dealing with the agency’s controversial electronic surveillance initiative.
Regarding Apple’s iPhone, the findings, concurrently published by German magazine Der Spiegel, are limited to a single top secret document dating back to 2008. The page details DROPOUTJEEP’s basic operational structure and capabilities, which include the interception of SMS messages, access to on-board data, microphone activation, and approximate positioning via cell tower location. All communication takes place covertly over SMS or GPRS data protocols.
Proliferation within the iPhone community is largely unknown while being a startling revolution. Furthermore, the NSA boasts a 100% success rate for implanting the spyware on iOS devices but the document suggests physical contact with a target phone is required to implant the software. In practice, the method is likely similar to a consumer jailbreak looking for root device access according to him. To this point, Applebaum alludes to complicit involvement by Apple but states that he “can’t really prove it.” He had the following to say regarding the matter:
I don't really believe that Apple didn't help them," Appelbaum said. "I can't really prove it yet, but [the NSA] literally claim that anytime they target an iOS device, that it will succeed for implantation. Either they have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products, meaning that they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves. Not sure which one it is. I'd like to believe that since Apple didn't join the PRISM program until after Steve Jobs died, that maybe it's just that they write [expletive redacted] software. We know that's true.
Those of you interested in hearing Applebaum’s talk regarding the iPhone discussion should watch the video below:
Source: Daily Dot, Der Spiegel