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[liberationtech] [cryptography] NSA can spy on smart phone data

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Sun Sep 8 13:22:11 PDT 2013

----- Forwarded message from ianG <iang at> -----

Date: Sun, 08 Sep 2013 20:11:47 +0300
From: ianG <iang at>
To: Crypto discussion list <cryptography at>
Subject: [cryptography] NSA can spy on smart phone data
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.8; rv:17.0) Gecko/20130801 Thunderbird/17.0.8

Privacy Scandal: NSA Can Spy on Smart Phone Data

SPIEGEL has learned from internal NSA documents that the US
intelligence agency 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 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

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

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

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."

The material viewed by SPIEGEL suggests that the spying on smart
phones has not been a mass phenomenon. It has been targeted, in some
cases in an individually tailored manner and without the knowledge of
the smart phone companies.

Visit SPIEGEL ONLINE International on Monday for the full article.
cryptography mailing list
cryptography at

----- End forwarded message -----
Eugen* Leitl <a href="">leitl</a>
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820
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