Two months ago, when we reported that the NSA has successfully inserted illegal access protocols into the Android OS, thus granting it back door access into nearly three quarters of all cell phones, the news was met with skepticism and resistance: how could an open-sourced architecture be so frail and open to penetration was the most common complaint. We wonder if today’s news, broken by Germany’s Spiegel, according to which the NSA can spy not only on Android smartphones but tap user data on all iPhone and BlackBerry devices “including contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information about where a user has been”, will be met with the same skepticism or if the realization that every form of privacy is now gone, has finally dawned on the population. Spiegel reports, citing”internal NSA documents that the NSA has the capability of tapping user data from the iPhone, devices using Android as well as BlackBerry, a system previously believed to be highly secure. The documents also indicate that the NSA has set upspecific working groups to deal with each operating system, with the goal of gaining secret access to the data held on the phones.” While at this point it should come as no surprise that the NSA pervasively spies on Americans without a warrant or clearance, and has access to every device permitting electronic communication, the bigger question is: if everything is being spied on, what is left? Is carrierpigeons.com about to IPO?
The United States’ National Security Agency intelligence-gathering operation is capable of accessing user data from smart phones from all leading manufacturers. Top secret NSA documents that SPIEGEL has seen 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.
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. This could mark a huge setback for the company, which has always claimed that its mail system is uncrackable.
In response to questions from SPIEGEL, BlackBerry 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.”
Of course not, it just allowed the NSA to program one. And while the biggest scandal of the Obama administration continues to get ever bigger, and makes Nixon look like an amateur, what is the response? Why a media that aside for a few outlets remains mute… and diversion from the administration of course, in the form of war and hundreds of thousands about to die just to keep the president in his seat.
Finally, while two months ago we joked when we presented the following two graphics, now we are no longer so sure it is a joke: