Germany’s Der Spigel reports that according to leaked documents, the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) can hack into iPhones, Android smartphones and BlackBerries.
The internal documents reveal that they can access to sensitive data held on smartphones including contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information.
In the internal documents, experts boast about successful access to iPhone data in instances where the NSA is able to infiltrate the computer a person uses to sync their iPhone. Mini-programs, so-called “scripts,” then enable additional access to at least 38 iPhone features.
The documents suggest the intelligence specialists have also had similar success in hacking into BlackBerrys. A 2009 NSA document states that it can “see and read SMS traffic.” It also notes there was a period in 2009 when the NSA was temporarily unable to access BlackBerry devices. After the Canadian company acquired another firm the same year, it changed the way in compresses its data. But in March 2010, the department responsible at Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency declared in a top secret document it had regained access to BlackBerry data and celebrated with the word, “champagne!”
The documents also state that the NSA has succeeded in accessing the BlackBerry mail system, which is known to be very secure.
The report notes that spying was targeted at specific individuals and not a “mass phenomenon,” and without the knowledge of smartphone makers.
Smartphone makers like Apple have maintained that conversations taking place on iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender or receiver can see or read them. Earlier in the year, federal agencies had also voiced concerns that they were not able to snoop over messages sent using the service due to iMessage’s end-to-end encryption.
We’re assuming that NSA is probably able to access sensitive information by hacking into a person’s computer, and then accessing the sensitive data from the iTunes backups if they’re not encrypted.
Der Spigel plans to publish a “full article” article tomorrow, which should provide more details.
Are you concerned about NSA syping on smartphones? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Via Der Spigel]