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02/06/2023 | Russia says it uncovered U.S. operation to compromise Apple phones

Joseph Fitsanakis

RUSSIAN OFFICIALS SAID THEY uncovered a sophisticated espionage effort by the United States government, which targeted the smartphones of thousands of Apple users living in Russia, including foreign diplomats.

 

According to the Russians, the operation was carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA), an American intelligence agency that specializes in gathering foreign signals intelligence and securing the United States government’s information and communication systems.

The source of the allegation is the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s primary counterterrorism and counterintelligence agency. On Thursday, the FSB said that “an intelligence action of the American special services” had been uncovered by FSB officers with the assistance of the Federal Protective Service. Known in Russia by its initials, FSO, the Federal Protective Service operates federal emergency communications systems and provides personal security for high-ranking government officials.

According to the FSB, “several thousand Apple telephones” were targeted in the alleged NSA operation, including devices belonging to “domestic Russian subscribers”, as well as devices belonging to foreign diplomats stationed in Russia. The latter allegedly include diplomats from Israel, Syria and China, according to the FSB. The Russian agency also claimed that Russia-based foreign diplomats from North Atlantic Treaty Organization member-states had their phones targeted, as well as diplomats from former Soviet states.In the same press release, the FSB accused the NSA and Apple of working in “close cooperation” with each other —an allegation that the Russian government has been making for several years. In a follow-up media statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the United States of engaging in “hidden data collection” and dismissed Apple iPhones as “absolutely transparent”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged Russians to avoid using Apple products and lamented reports that one in three Russian government workers continue to utilize Apple products for their personal use. When asked by reporters if the Russian government had plans to outlaw the use of Apple products by government employees, Peskov responded that the Kremlin did “not have the power to even recommend that”, except for those government employees with access to classified information.

Intelnews.org (Estados Unidos)

 



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