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NSA worked on iPhone spyware to remotely monitor users, leaked documents show

post #1 of 86
Thread Starter 
New documents revealed on Monday show the U.S. 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.

DROUPOUTJEEP
Section of leaked DROUPOUTJEEP document. (Click for full page) | Source: Der Spiegel


In a talk at the Chaos Communications Congress in Germany, security researcher Jacob Appelbaum 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, reports The Daily Dot.

As it pertains to Apple's smartphone, 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.

While a startling revelation, DROPOUTJEEP's proliferation within the iPhone community is largely unknown. The NSA boasts a 100 percent success rate for implanting the spyware on iOS devices, Appelbaum said, but the document suggests physical contact with a target phone is required to implant the surreptitious software. In practice, the method is likely similar to a consumer jailbreak looking for root device access.

To this point, Appelbaum alludes to complicit involvement by Apple, but tempers his -- so far baseless -- allegation with "I can't really prove it."

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.


Der Spiegel asserts specialized NSA Tailored Access Operations (TAO) teams intercept incoming device shipments, carefully open packages and install spyware before sending the "bugged" units along to end users.

A more efficient delivery mechanism is remote installation, something the NSA said was being "pursued for future release." Once again, it is unknown if the agency moved forward with such a system in the intervening five years since the document was first issued.

Video of Appelbaum's talk with iPhone discussion starting at around 44:30:

post #2 of 86
My fucking god, to what ends?
post #3 of 86
What a worm: "I don't really believe that Apple didn't help them," Appelbaum said.

You have no proof of anything. You can't prove a negative.

Can't wait for the headlines: Apple allegedly works with NSA to hack iPhones.
Then in paragraph 7: we have no proof.
post #4 of 86
Apple is erasing discussions on this topic at their support forum, right now the whole forum is shut down for a complete cleanup.

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post #5 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLite View Post

Why is half the article crossed out?

I'd say you are using either the HTML or markup strikethrough in your quoted reply. If that was in the originally posted article it's no there now.

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post #6 of 86
Great! Maybe Apple will offer this option for parental monitoring of minors. Looking forward to this necessary iOS upgrade!
post #7 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post

Apple is erasing discussions on this topic at their support forum, right now the whole forum is shut down for a complete cleanup.

[image]

It's up for me but even if it was down I have a problem believing that this article being posted on AI would in any way directly cause Apple to all of a sudden take down their forum in order to only now clean out any comments related to the NSA.


edit: I also just did a quick search and found plenty of NSA related discussions on Apple's forums.
Edited by SolipsismX - 12/30/13 at 5:37pm

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post #8 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

What a worm: "I don't really believe that Apple didn't help them," Appelbaum said.

You have no proof of anything. You can't prove a negative.

Can't wait for the headlines: Apple allegedly works with NSA to hack iPhones.
Then in paragraph 7: we have no proof.

He may be a worm (no idea, really) but his comment is stated as a belief which implies a conviction or opinion in the absences of hard evidence. That's perfectly acceptable as stated even if his reasoning turns out to be unethical.
Edited by SolipsismX - 12/30/13 at 5:44pm

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post #9 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It's up for me but even if it was down I have a problem believing that this article being posted on AI would in any way directly cause Apple to all of a sudden take down their forum in order to only now clean out any comments related to the NSA.
Apple support isn't down. Someone's just being an ass posting a fake photo.
post #10 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

What a worm: "I don't really believe that Apple didn't help them," Appelbaum said.

You have no proof of anything. You can't prove a negative.

Can't wait for the headlines: Apple allegedly works with NSA to hack iPhones.
Then in paragraph 7: we have no proof.

Rather than depend on the snippet that AI chose to quote you should take the time to listen to exactly what he had to say. It wasn't quite the damning accusations of a complicit Apple that they might appear to be.
Edited by Gatorguy - 12/30/13 at 5:46pm
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post #11 of 86

um ... this doc is 5 years old! i think maybe that is just too out of date to matter now.

 

whatever the NSA is doing/trying to do has no doubt become a lot more sophisticated since then. and iOS security has also advanced greatly. none of use really has any idea what is happening now.

 

where are those hacker geniuses when you need them to figure stuff like this out?

post #12 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

Apple support isn't down. Someone's just being an ass posting a fake photo.

It was down for more then hour, then all Dropout Jeep articles were missing. I made that screenshot myself when posting reply here.
Edited by gabberattack - 12/30/13 at 7:02pm
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post #13 of 86

Whether Apple helped or not, the NSA required physical access. As for Android, I'm sure the NSA doesn't need physical access. Android is like Windows--designed and built for malware and surreptitious monitoring.

post #14 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post

It was down for more then hour, then all Jeep articles were missing. I made that screenshot myself when posting reply here.

The only search I see that is showing missing discussions are ones that contain Dropout Jeep, not simply Jeep or any general discussions about NSA and security. What does that mean? Given Apple's long history of curating their discussion boards there is no way we can discern an answer.

As for the site being down are you certain it came down to remove these threads? Why would they call attention to themselves to remove a handful of discussions? This isn't like a new product release where they bring down the store helps advertise. Plus they haven't had to do that in the past to her rid of threads.

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post #15 of 86

It's on the internet so this has to be true.  /s

post #16 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post
 

Whether Apple helped or not, the NSA required physical access. As for Android, I'm sure the NSA doesn't need physical access. Android is like Windows--designed and built for malware and surreptitious monitoring.

 

This has nothing to do with Apple versus Android.

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #17 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boltsfan17 View Post

It's on the internet so this has to be true.  /s

It's on the internet, so it has to be false. /s

Aside: is it still called Ad Hominum if it's the internet?
post #18 of 86
There's just less than 3 weeks till AAPL blowout earnings report.

So OF COURSE the iPhone release on China Mobile is a flop.
So OF COURSE AAPL is actually just a "front" for the NSA.
So OF COURSE iPhones are clearly NSA monitoring devices.
So OF COURSE Chromebook is decimating Apple laptop sales.

Countdown to story that iPhone fingerprint scanner forwards your fingerprint to NSA in, 3-2-1...

Some people never learn.
(and Wall St thanks you for that fact)
post #19 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobSchlob View Post

There's just less than 3 weeks till AAPL blowout earnings report.

So OF COURSE the iPhone release on China Mobile is a flop.
So OF COURSE AAPL is actually just a "front" for the NSA.
So OF COURSE iPhones are clearly NSA monitoring devices.
So OF COURSE Chromebook is decimating Apple laptop sales.

Countdown to story that iPhone fingerprint scanner forwards your fingerprint to NSA in, 3-2-1...

Some people never learn.
(and Wall St thanks you for that fact)

They have my fingerprints already so I don't care. The problem is what happens if somebody else than NSA gets access to this malware. Government and criminals go hand in hand...

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post #20 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post
 

They have my fingerprints already so I don't care. The problem is what happens if somebody else than NSA gets access to this malware. Government and criminals go hand in hand...

Absolutely nothing to do with my point; but that's ok.

post #21 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post
 

This has nothing to do with Apple versus Android.

But it does. If iOS requires physical access and Android doesn't, it's a huge difference.

post #22 of 86

Is 2008 the year where Apple released iOS SDK ?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IOS_SDK

 

If so, they "only" need to jailbreak iOS 1.x (and 2.x) with physical access, change file permissions and load UNIX tools to the phone right ?

 

Did the presenter give any technical details. Or is he just summarizing Snowden's documents ?

 

These days, iOS7 is a lot more picky about all sorts of access from camera to user resources.

post #23 of 86
Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post
Apple is erasing discussions on this topic at their support forum, right now the whole forum is shut down for a complete cleanup.

 

Do you have any proof of that?

post #24 of 86
My 3 posts on dropoutjeep were erased, multiple others disappeared as well. This NSA malware is the worst breach of 4th amendment until today. If they really allowed NSA to install spyware, this is the thing that can sink them down... and I won't cry a bit.
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post #25 of 86
Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post
My 3 posts on dropoutjeep were erased, multiple others disappeared as well. This NSA malware is the worst breach of 4th amendment until today. If they really allowed NSA to install spyware, this is the thing that can sink them down... and I won't cry a bit.

 

Enjoy your FUD. We’re still waiting for proof of your claims.

post #26 of 86
What proof do you want? The links to the erased discussion topics?
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post #27 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post

My 3 posts on dropoutjeep were erased, multiple others disappeared as well. This NSA malware is the worst breach of 4th amendment until today. If they really allowed NSA to install spyware, this is the thing that can sink them down... and I won't cry a bit.

 

What we are seeing is the beginning of the end of US, dominance on the internet, and all because of NSA/Government spying, the decline has probably already started at the policy (governmental) level internationally, notice hardly anyone in the system is calling for a end to fishing trips without a warrant, to all the companies who caved I hope it was worth the money, because if any company (Apple) can be directly tied to this fiasco a long slow decline will be the result.


Edited by Danox - 12/30/13 at 9:47pm
post #28 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danox View Post
 

 

What we are seeing is the beginning of the end of US, dominance on the internet, and all because of NSA/Government spying, the decline has probably already started at the policy (governmental) level internationally, notice hardly anyone in the system is calling for a end to fishing trips without a warrant, to all the companies who caved I hope it was worth the money, because if any company (Apple) can be directly tied to this fiasco a long slow decline will be the result.


It's a little hard to say at this point. The Internet communities will fight for their freedom. The other government will complain on the surface, but they may want "in" on US's program, just like UK.

post #29 of 86
Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post
What proof do you want?

 

That the downtime was related to the removal of political threads.

post #30 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

But it does. If iOS requires physical access and Android doesn't, it's a huge difference.

Since you brought it up the only published comment I found was that they almost certainly can spy on Android handsets too but perhaps don't have as thorough and total access as they do with Apple iPhones. As Ireland mentioned the iPhone spyware story doesn't involve Android or any other mobile OS. A followup story dealing with the NSA and other handset OS's wouldn't be unexpected. .
Edited by Gatorguy - 12/30/13 at 10:38pm
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post #31 of 86
I have a feeling the shit is going to go down in a really big way with all these providers very soon, even more so than it has already.

Remember Snowden appears to have anything and everything of sensitivity from NSA and he's choosing to release it bit by bit for maximum impact and to catch the government and tech companies out even more.

This could go on for years and I for one am glad that an American hero emerged to expose the Five Eyes governments for doing in 2013 what was warned about in 1984, only perhaps 2-2.5 decades later than predicted.

I mean secretly enabling microphones and front facing cameras and accessing and transmitting saved messages and files is truly scary stuff if or when this is confirmed.

Now we know why Apple and the others are truly shitting themselves.
post #32 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


Since you brought it up the only published comment I found was that they almost certainly can spy on Android handsets too but perhaps don't have as thorough and total access as they do with Apple iPhones. As Ireland mentioned the iPhone spyware story doesn't involve Android or any other mobile OS. A followup story dealing with the NSA and other handset OS's wouldn't be unexpected. .

 

Android is open sourced. NSA have total access to the device given physical access. 
They can also tap on the malware to plant stuff on the target device.

 

I am more interested in iOS7. It is more sophisticated than iOS 1.x/2.x (and the first iOS SDK) in 2008. What can NSA do today ?

post #33 of 86

We shouldn't be surprised that they are targeting one of the most popular phones. They've clearly demonstrated their willingness to lie, to exaggerate, and to violate our privacy. The NSA isn't doing this because "terrorists" use iPhones. They're doing this because senators, congressmen, and judges use iPhones. They're doing this so when it's time to prosecute them for violating the peoples' rights, they can blackmail and extort. That's what drives me nuts when plebes say "Oh I don't care, I have nothing to hide". It's not about you, it's going to be about who ever represents you, judging (for you), being a (civil rights, gay rights, women's rights, men's rights) activist (for you). And you never, ever had the say in deciding what needs to be hidden or not. If a government decides they want to destroy your life by invading your privacy, then the more tools that they have the easier it'll be.

 

We need to put a stop to this. Our governments looked at East Germany and have collectively decided, without our consent, that the Stasi had a good idea going, they just didn't go far enough. 

 

Don't blame Apple or Google here. This is a failure of our respective democracies. 

post #34 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfiejr View Post
 

um ... this doc is 5 years old! i think maybe that is just too out of date to matter now.

 

whatever the NSA is doing/trying to do has no doubt become a lot more sophisticated since then. and iOS security has also advanced greatly. none of use really has any idea what is happening now.

Well everybody know what is happening now - APPLE JOIN PIRSM PROJECT. end of story.

post #35 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolfish View Post
 

We shouldn't be surprised that they are targeting one of the most popular phones. They've clearly demonstrated their willingness to lie, to exaggerate, and to violate our privacy. The NSA isn't doing this because "terrorists" use iPhones. They're doing this because senators, congressmen, and judges use iPhones. They're doing this so when it's time to prosecute them for violating the peoples' rights, they can blackmail and extort. That's what drives me nuts when plebes say "Oh I don't care, I have nothing to hide".

 

I actually don't believe it really matters why they are doing it at the end of the day. If living in a prison is seen as the only option then we've lost it. At that stage we've leapfrogged the shark and The Fonz, together. People need to wake up. It's time American people and systems had checks and balances in place. Everybody needs to be held accountable for their actions: the common man and government. You only have to look at what's happening to people who try to expose this stuff. From what has been reported by The Guardian Snowden tried every avenue and eventually chose the journalistic one when he was systematically ignored through the 'correct' channels. And he redacted every name. But still he was treated as a terrorist and repeatedly labelled with scary questions by the American media.

 

There's a whole lot of moss on this slippery slope, folks.


Edited by Ireland - 12/31/13 at 2:56am
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post #36 of 86
If you have nothing to hide, who cares. The government look at all emails and listen to all telephone calls, they have done for years. They hack into everything without permission because they don't need permission. They have limitless funds and access to the best hackers available and the most powerful computers. They would not need Apple's help.
post #37 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evilution View Post

If you have nothing to hide, who cares. 

 

That's an irrelevant argument. You don't get to decide what's worth hiding, the government does. You can be 100% completely innocent (unlikely, as the US has something like over 18,000 statutes and the average person violates around 3 a day) and then the government decides that something you are doing, even in private, is against the law, and tada. Or, more likely, is that they'll go after congress people, senators, judges, or business leaders. Apple might decide to crack down on some security hole, and before you know it the CEO is being blackmailed by the NSA to prevent that. Or, the NSA could be using inside information to manipulate financial markets. Elections. Etc. It really doesn't matter what you think, if you're innocent or too unimportant to be affected by this. It's such a terrible, stupid, and irrelevant argument to make. And yet here we are, people like you still make it because you haven't thought of the consequences beyond yourself.

 

 

One more short anecdote. Recently several people in a small town in the US were pulled over. One did a "california roll" (rolling stop) through a parking lot stop sign. The police decided that this was enough cause for them to search the vehicle, and the driver. So they searched him, thoroughly. And when they didn't find anything, they took him to a hospital to have his insides checked. Several times. The first hospital, btw, refused to do it. The officer's reason for this? The driver appeared to have clenched buttocks. 12 hours of cavity searches. And this guy was completely innocent, with nothing to hide. 

 

Or another episode, recently discussed on NPR. Journalist's family was returning from Canada where they attended a wedding. They are American citizens. They were detained by the DHS, and not told why. 6 hours they were kept in a deliberately cold room, without water, food, or access to medical supplies, or a lawyer. Eventually the father was arrested, and the wife was told that agents were going to take him away. Hours and hours later, the state police showed up. The father had had an unpaid ticket for a license plate that wasn't attached straight. DHS has refused to give any information as to why the family was treated this way. Turns out, this sort of treatment happened to other people who attended the same wedding.

 

Is that the sort of society you really want to have? 


Edited by coolfish - 12/31/13 at 3:30am
post #38 of 86

And there are still complete idiots who are able to defend NSA's abhorrent actions, which are not only against basic constitutional principles but also defy every relevant tenet of international law - they should all be sent to the firing squad together with all those who came up this agency in the first place.

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post #39 of 86

"but the document suggests physical contact with a target phone is required to implant the surreptitious software"

 

So for this software to work they must have my phone or perhaps bump my iPhone to upload the software or perhaps the software just load itself automatically without me doing a single like the guy who claimed iOS7 installed itself in his home.

 

​The way I look at it it is much ado about nothing unless one is a iHater.

post #40 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

That the downtime was related to the removal of political threads.

Lol, I am not working there but I see what was there before & what was missing after. You have to talk to somebody from inside to confirm it.
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