Brony’s beware, the NSA knows all about those My Little Pony apps on your smart phone. German Magazine Der Spiegel has learned from internal NSA documents that the US intelligence agency has the capability of tapping user data from the smartphone devices using iPhone, Android as well as BlackBerry, a system previously believed to be highly secure.
According to the report, the NSA can access user data from smart phones from all leading manufacturers. Der Spiegel has seen these top secret NSA documents that explicitly note that the NSA can tap into such information on Apple iPhones, BlackBerry devices and Google’s Android mobile operating system.The documents state that it is possible for the NSA to tap most sensitive data held on these smart phones, including contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information about where a user has been.
The report does not indicate how the NSA has been using their ability, but according to Der Spiegel the spying on smart phones
has not been a mass phenomenon, in some cases in
an individually tailored manner and without the knowledge of the smart
phone companies. The magazine promises a follow up article tomorrow which will provide more of the details.
The documents also indicate that the NSA has set up specific working groups to deal with each operating system, with the goal of gaining secret access to the data held on the phones.
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, it changed the way in compresses its data. But in March 2010, the department responsible declared 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. This could mark a huge setback for the company, which has always claimed that its mail system is uncrackable.
Der Spiegel asked BlackBerry for a comment. Their officials stated, “It is not for us to comment on media reports regarding alleged government surveillance of telecommunications traffic.” The company said it had not programmed a “‘back door’ pipeline to our platform.”
One would expect a national spy agency to have the the ability to tap into smart phones, tomorrow we learn how they used or abused that ability, against foreigners, Americans, etc. or whether this is another mass spying against the US citizens representing another violation of the fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
UPDATE: Der Spiegel published the details today. The Good News is tapping into smart phones is not widespread. The bad news is-It still “ain’t” pretty:
A photo taken in
January 2012 is especially risqué: It shows a former senior government
official of a foreign country who, according to the NSA, is relaxing on
his couch in front of a TV set and taking pictures of himself — with
his iPhone. To protect the person’s privacy, SPIEGEL has chosen not to
reveal his name or any other details.
Read the Der Spiegel update Here.