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Apple says it's unaware of NSA iPhone backdoor program

The company issues a statement responding to claims that the NSA has deep access to the iPhone.

James Martin/CNET
Apple says it has never worked with the US National Security Agency to give the agency backdoor access to the iPhone, responding to leaked documents that were published by German news magazine Der Spiegel on Monday.

The statement comes after documents shared by security researcher Jacob Appelbaum and Der Spiegel disclosed an NSA program called DROPOUTJEEP, which is said to allow the agency to do things like intercept text messages, access contact lists, and activate the phone's microphone and camera.

The company also said it was unaware of such a program.

According to a slide leaked by Der Spiegel, which is dated from 2008 -- when the phone was running earlier versions of iOS -- the DROPOUTJEEP software implant can remotely push and pull files from the device and "all communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted." The implant described in the slide also requires physical access of a phone, but the slide also says that a remote installation capability was being pursued.

Here is the full statement Apple provided to CNET:

Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers' privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple's industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who's behind them.