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Apple Issues DROPOUTJEEP Denial as Expected, But Questions Remain



I’m not sure which is the most troubling part of this story. A company like Apple potentially being complicit with the NSA in order to install a backdoor into its products, or a company like Apple creating, marketing, and selling devices and services that they aren’t aware have surveillance back doors. After the latest info on security leaks that said Apple’s industry leading iPhones had a back door allowing the NSA to essentially track any communication or data exchange on those devices Apple has issued a strong denial. This latest story was featured in a Der Spiegel report about TAO, the NSA’s toolbox and methods that it uses to gather data. In that report it was stated that a program called DROPOUTJEEP allowed the NSA to monitor any iPhone through a backdoor. The article left it open to interpretation as to whether Apple had been complicit with this kind of monitoring by allowing the backdoor to exist.

apple-logo[1]Of course Apple is going to issue a denial. It has no recourse but to do so. Apple reached out to TechCrunch and other sources to deliver that denial and here is the quote:

Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security.  Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements.  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.

As mentioned in this story earlier today, these issues affect consumers, companies that create and market to those consumers, and most importantly the trust we all need to surrender to in order to make these systems work. Corporations can’t afford to be constantly answering consumer questions bred out of mistrust. The real story will be to see how companies like Apple respond in the long term versus immediate pro-forma responses and now consumers respond going forward.

Of course there is another nagging question out there as well. How will we really know if these issues have been corrected? These questions will be asked of Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others in the months and years ahead.





  1. Jeffrey

    12/31/2013 at 6:13 pm

    Privacy is more important now than ever before. We may not be able to hide from the NSA, but we can stop using sites like Facebook and Google. Just think about it. If you care so much about your privacy, if you are outraged by all of the NSA spying, then WHY are you using facebook and google. Those companies are just as bad, if not worse, than the NSA. This is why I advocate using privacy-based sites such as DuckDuckGo, Ravetree, HushMail, etc.

    • BrianK

      01/02/2014 at 6:26 am

      The while point of the article is asking how can we trust a company and its product when we, as consumers, do not know for sure that our privacy is protected.

      What if HushMail is really a CIA front, and all of these years we have used it knowing we are protected from spying of our personal emails? When all along its just another lie to allow our government to spy on us. Do you run HushMail? If no? Then you cannot say with full certainty it is protecting your emails 100%.

  2. William Hugh Murray, CISSP

    01/01/2014 at 6:05 am

    Apple, NSA, and many users have known for a long time that if one has physical access to an iPhone, one can compromise its iOS security. It even has a name, “jailbreaking.” It does not require any cooperation on the part of Apple. Indeed, Apple has made it harder and harder. As I understand the der Spiegel article, DROPOUTJEEP requires “close access.” Yes, NSA aspires to be able to do it remotely. Welcome to the club; lots share that aspiration.

    What am I missing?

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