THE CIA HAS been trying to crack Apple security for ages but with no success. That, friends, is the latest peep from the Edward Snowden whistle, and the newest report from disclosure reporter The Intercept.
Leaked documents that came The Intercept's way show that the CIA tried to crack Apple things, and other consumer devices, at regular events called 'Jamborees'.
These have taken place for around a decade, according to the report, predating the first iPhone.
Apple declined to comment to The Intercept on this, and we have asked the firm whether it has changed its mind since then. So far it has not responded. We suspect it is rather busy today.
The Intercept said that the Apple PR machine directed its researchers to earlier comments from CEO Tim Cook in which he made it very clear that Apple has no interest in user data and no interest in pooling it.
Commenting on his technology peers and the relations they have with the surveillance community, Cook said that Apple does not play that game.
"Companies should be very transparent," he said. "We're not in that business. I'm offended by lots of it. I think people should have a right to privacy. We want to be totally transparent."
Cook has since shared his feelings with president Obama, telling him that everybody should respect privacy.
The Intercept claimed that various researchers came up with Apple cracks over the years.
One attempt, an Xcode clone that could poison software at the development stage, could have forced "all iOS applications to send embedded data to a listening post". Another could have cleared a path to a keylogger.
The CIA Jamborees aren't just Apple flavoured, of course. At least one presentation concerned a way into Microsoft's BitLocker encryption system.
The Intercept has a copy of an invitation to a Jamboree in 2012. It is hosted by the CIA's Information Operations Center and promises a good look into emerging technologies and the "threats and opportunities" they present.
The documents held by The Intercept do not comment on any successful implementations of CIA code.
Steven Bellovin, a professor at Columbia University and a former chief technologist for the US Federal Trade Commission, told The Intercept: "Spies are gonna spy. I'm never surprised by what intelligence agencies do to get information. Their attitude is basically amoral: whatever works is OK." µ
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