Has US President accidentally let the cat slip out of the bag
It appears that an off-the-cuff comment from the US President, Barack Obama, that he can’t use a US designed mobile handset might have revealed more than he intended. He claimed that he couldn’t actually use an Apple iPhone for ‘security reasons’. On the surface of this, it could be a reference to the fact the the US authorities have always regarded Canadian designed BlackBerries as being more secure. GoMo News‘ love of conspiracy theories, however, would cause us to speculate that the real reason is that US agents have found the means to hack iPhones but not handsets originating from other countries.
We wish some handset geek would confirm our suspicions that the handset being used by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in our photo looks like an iPhone to us.
And it is well known that the USA had to admit that it had managed to tap the mobile phones of some 35 world leaders including Merkel.
By complete contrast, Canadian made BlackBerries have been awarded the prestigious ‘authority to operate’ certification by the US Department of Defense.
Indeed these devices became the first smartphones to receive such a statement of confidence from the US government.
Now here’s some expert comment on the subject of security from Marta Janus, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
Marta claims, “In the uneasy times of rapidly growing cyber-espionage attacks, there is no wonder why governments and high-profile institutions tend to be very careful and adopt strict security procedures.”
“All the confidential nation-state related information is highly priced and highly desired, not only by cybercriminal groups, who can make vast amounts of money on selling it, but also by foreign nations, opposition politicians or hacktivists, who can disclose it or use it to their own advantage.”
Janus continued, “At this point, it appears a necessity to do a thorough security check of every single device that will be used to hold or transmit sensitive data, before handing it over to the high-profile government official, such as the US President.”
Apparently, there are two main vectors of risk: – one is the software insecurities and vulnerabilities, that could be used by attackers to gain access to the device (e.g. in order to steal data, and install spyware).
The other is the possibility of hardware backdoors or suspicious firmware changes, that could have been made to the device at the factory level.
“Auditing and approval of new devices must take into account all these concerns. This is especially true for high-profile organisations,” Janus added.
The White House’s iPhone band doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a serious security issue with iPhone in general.
“We need to distinguish here between concerns of individual users and concerns of high-profile entities,” Janus claimed.
“While iOS seems a good choice for the first ones (less malware in the wild, better software policies), it can be a tough nut to crack for the latter, especially because – due to its closed source – it’s difficult to audit, extend, and adapt to non-standard or customized infrastructures.”
We still think this proves why the USA is so obsessed with keeping infrastructure equipment from Chinese manufacturer, Huawei, from spreading in North America. Its own spooks can’t hack the gear.