Apple Engineered Surveillance Back Door into 600 Million iPhones

I’m so glad I’m a techno-weenie! My old phone is just a phone and that’s the way I like it. No texting, no surfing… just a few important calls now and then.  ~ BP

July 23, 2014

A highly skilled hacker who presented at the recent Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE/X) conference in New York has dropped a massive bomb on the state of smartphone privacy. Jonathan Zdziarski, an active member in the iPhone development community who helped work on many early iOS “jailbreak” iterations, says Apple has deliberately engineered back door surveillance systems into the iPhone, allowing both the company and the government easy access to users’ personal data.

During his presentation, Zdziarski, who goes by the hacker alias “NerveGas,” showed detailed slides explaining how iOS is inherently insecure — on purpose. His investigation into the coding behind iOS revealed that the seemingly user-friendly system, which is used on hundreds of millions of Apple iPhones, contains a number of “undocumented high-value forensic services” and “suspicious design omissions,” both of which make it relatively easy for private data to be extracted from users’ phones.

NSA developed program to gain ‘almost complete access’ to iPhone

While Apple has apparently installed reasonable safeguards to protect against average civilian hackers, he says, the device giant has intentionally created wide-open back doors for Apple and the government to easily access users’ personal data. The National Security Agency (NSA) is one such government agency that, according to a leaked document from 2008, was able to gain “almost complete access” to the iPhone.

“In December 2013, an NSA program dubbed DROPOUTJEEP was [revealed] by security researcher Jacob Appelbaum that reportedly gave the agency almost complete access to the iPhone,” wrote Jason D. O’Grady for ZDNet. “The leaked document, dated 2008, noted that the malware required ‘implant via close access methods’ (presumably physical access to the iPhone) but ominously noted that ‘a remote installation capability will be pursued for a future release.’”

iPhone constantly at risk of ‘spilling all data,’ says Zdziarski

Zdziarski named three specific undocumented iOS services — “lockdownd,” “pcapd” and “mobile.file_relay” — that appear to have been installed on more than 600 million iPhones for the purpose of collecting data. Other intentional failures like the iPhone’s “unmarried” authentication passcode allow for third-party access to the device without users’ consent.

“Your device is almost always at risk of spilling all data, since it’s almost always authenticated, even while locked,” explained Zdziarski, noting that this constant state of authentication appears to be an intentional design “flaw.”

Even law enforcement could pull iPhone data during a routine traffic stop with the right tools

All of these vulnerabilities and more, says Zdziarski, allow for complex forensic tools to gain access to the iPhone. Even a common law enforcement officer, given that his department has these tools in its arsenal, could theoretically gain access to the contents of an iPhone during a routine traffic stop or arrest, before the phone’s owner gets a chance to manually shut it down and activate an encryption service.

There are also ways to piggy-back the contents of an iPhone through certain “black bag” acquisition techniques, he says. These include compromised iPhone docking stations, for instance, or alarm clocks. This technique is known as “juice jacking,” and Zdziarski says law enforcement and the Feds have shown interest in the technology.

“Why is there a packet sniffer running on 600 million personal iOS devices instead of moved to the developer mount?” asked Zdziarski in a long list of questions to Apple. “Why are there undocumented services that bypass user backup encryption that dump mass amounts of personal data from the phone? Why is most of my user data still not encrypted with the PIN or passphrase, enabling the invasion of my personal privacy by YOU?”




About Starship Earth: The Big Picture

I'm a Canadian freelance writer living near Phoenix, Arizona specializing in the 2012 phenomenon, spirituality, and wellness & nutrition. Over the past 8 years I've learned what our spiritual upgrade is REALLY all about and have access to insider information not shared in the mainstream media. I aim to dispel the myths and disinformation around The Shift and Ascension and help bring the world Truth. It is time. Welcome... and I hope this blog makes a difference in your spiritual liberation. ~ Molly A. Chapman

17 thoughts on “Apple Engineered Surveillance Back Door into 600 Million iPhones

  1. Judith Guggenheim says:

    Perhaps JOB tried to block this before his cancer kicked in?

  2. Wanderer says:

    What the hell does it matter, Light Worker? Corporations are not people and you needn’t be an Apple fan boy. Free yourself of that ego game. Apple was making toxic crap and utilizing child labor in Asia when Jobs was still alive and well. Far as I’m concerened they’re every bit as sleazy and culpable as M$. They deserve no one’s loyalty.

  3. For all of those flipping-out, remember that Apple didn’t join the NSA’s PRISM program until a year after Steve Jobs passed away in 2011. Microsoft was proudly one of the first, back in 2007. So, make sure you understand that Microsoft sold-out to the NSA, long before Apple (or Google).

    • Demitra M. N. says:

      I dunno, call me retarded but that oh-so-simple ON/OFF switch was working just fine until someone got the bright idea to “improve” on it. If they ever change the ON/OFF format of light switches, oh gawd, I’ll probably be sitting in the dark.

  4. says:

    I receive your interesting articles and share some to my facebook page. However no link shows on fbook which enables a reader to connect directly to your webpage. Unless someone googles “Starship Earth” and connect in that manner.
    Thanks again for your mindboggling info.
    Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

  5. Demitra M. N. says:

    I was without a cell phone till about 3 years ago. What finally sold me on it was getting stranded on the highway when my car broke down and then realizing that no one of the thousands that kept passing by gave a friggin’ crap! (I can laugh about it now but my view of people and the world totally changed that day.) I had to walk off that highway on foot in the rain.

    Anyway, what I ended up getting is a simple no-name old-style foldable which I buy minutes for once a year (about $8 month) and unused minutes get rolled over into the next year, which is nice. Practical and affordable — I like that. I hardly ever use it though It’s pretty much always turned off and I never learned how to retrieve messages so as a rule no one calls me on this line. Besides, the point of getting it was for emergencies, not chatting, which I haven’t much interest in doing in the best of times. And forget about texting — never going to join the walking dead club, sending meaningless messages, amounting to nothing.

    • Demitra… I hear you. My phone is for when I’m not home, on the road without hubby, and need to call him or AAA road service, or to keep in touch with someone I’m having a rendezvous with, in case someone is delayed, etc. It really is possible to live without a smart phone, despite what they have driven into the heads of the masses.

  6. Spock says:

    Hi @Paul !

    Yes, they produce those business terms deliberatly to get us all on a totally transparent screen. No hotel reservations without credit card…no internet news without facebook, no computer game without online platform that is necessary to run it…. remote controls on airliners and cars and so on !
    Sometimes i really get angry when confronted with those issues – it gets harder by the day to avoid this crap, using alternatives…

    • Spock…I agree…I was increasingly herded when I started using Gmail more, Facebook (which I resisted like hell but felt I needed it for blogging) and they are definitely creating ‘identities’ for us. My emergency phone is the least of my concerns.

  7. Paul says:

    I would guess that pretty much every electronic communication devise has some sort of spying devise within it. Heck every other app makes you have a google account. I really do feel however that when the time does come we the people should be asking ourselves, How are we going to deal with these companies who knew about this. “Answer” OUT OF BUSINESS… FOREVER!!!! It seems that I’m really starting to feel deep inside that at least for me, It will not be a problem to walk away from all this and move forward with the like minded. It dose seem that a division/split of mankind will happen, and already is.Check out Hopi prophecy. Just let Go!

  8. Spock says:

    Making billions with handies that have production costs that are distinctly below 50 $ per phone and fueling a “cult” with those “smartphones” with brainwashed people standing in long lines in front of the newest I-Phone hype – than listening to all phonecalls the handy owner does and transfering all data that is saved on the phone if they want to – i wonder how stupid and naive people are that don’t look through the marketing tricks and traps of those crooks that produce this shit !
    By the way….each I-Phone fuels also the cancer rate of its user because of toxic handy radiation (as all other handies also do).
    There was/is a ingenious inventor in Germany with the name of “Dr. Hartmut Müller”. He produced more than a decade ago a handy transmission on the natural wavelength of the universe. No harm, no hype – noting toxic with that phone…and it worked ! This man was thrown into prison because of supposedly fraud (that he never did).
    So you see – as long as it kills us and strips us naked in our privacy it is right on – if not it isn’t worth a try and gets suppressed !
    I hope that this article wakes up millions of handy sheeple – spread it far and wide !!!

  9. Yeahhhh, I’m sure happy I do not have an iPhone. My eldest son and wife do, though. I had told them about this, and they just won’t give up the features. Basically, it’s their internet and phone. But…what’s a mom gonna do when they’re the techo kids.

    Myself I’ve just got ‘the other’ Smart phone; and I only got that because of doing biz online when not in front of my computer at home. I REALLY didn’t want it, but I needed a world-wide coverage area. Costly, but as an example I called them yesterday and they were very gracious and accommodating; but then they should be for the price I pay. Heck, with that I could be paying car insurance each month. But when this old ‘puter does go down, I won’t be without a way to do my biz at least. However, the thought of an iPhone? It’ll never happen here.

    • Leahanna… besides, the technologies the Galactics share (or that already exist and have been suppressed) will be beyond all that, and, I think, free!

      • Well…no one is bound, that’s for sure. I’m surprised at those who believe they have no freedom. TG I’ve not been pestered. But then I don’t have a car to drive, so I don’t know what it’s like on the roads.

        Funny thing, though. The other night I was listening to the San Diego PD on my phone scanner. The officers who were making the calls were very patient with people, and when they confronted someone with a gun they told him to ‘drop it’ and raise his hands; and the man complied…and they just put the cuffs on him and into the police unit he went. No resistance. They didn’t get into a fight with him. Those that get caught should give up. Saves a lot of hassle. But who walks around half naked waving a gun? 🙂 Not I? lol

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