Apple claims no knowledge of DROPOUTJEEP, will protect customer data from any and all attacks, regardless of who's behind them

Apple says they don't work with NSA, will protect customer data from any and all attacks, regardless of who's behind them

Apple has commented on the DROPOUTJEEP program, which a security researcher claimed let the NSA and similar government agencies compromise iOS devices, enable cameras and mics, and track data with a "100% success" rate. Matthew Panzarino from TechCrunch got the statement:

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.

That's as direct and no-nonsense a comment from a company as I've seen on this stuff, which means either it's genuine, or if it ever comes to light that someone in power did know about or facilitate any of these programs, they're done.

I do know people at Apple who care very deeply about this stuff, who feel just as violated, and want to be protected from any all all such attacks every bit as much as we do. They all use their own products, iPhones and iPads and Macs, and have a vested interest in maintaining their privacy as much as ours.

The best case scenario, sadly, is that we'll see another arms-race, with companies who genuinely do value privacy working on better ways to protect data while those who seek to compromise them work on yet more ways to circumvent whatever they come up with.

Hell of a way to end a year.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter,, Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Mac Pro gets the iFixit teardown treatment

Next up →

2020: My Country builds a better city on iOS and Mac

There are 17 comments. Add yours.

emjayess says:

2014 promises to be vewy, vewy intewesting....

Rowanova says:

I don't know if it's just me , but I can't help but to question the validity of some of these NSA stories of late.
The NSA is capable of much, far over-reaching, and seemingly out of control. But some of these stories, that seem to pop up near daily now, seem really far fetched and out of control too.
If something like this article, and some others too, we're actually true, why are they never discovered by Apple, Google, MS, the millions of developers, security experts, or hackers?
I am a huge proponent of personal privacy, and very much against all of the governmental spying. But some of the stories lately have even me doubting their validity.
Just wondering...

quinn_drummer says:

I made this point on another forum, these stories are coming out daily, and if you look back to the original leaks over the summer, a lot of those stories over time have changed once full details emerged and more understanding of the process came to light. i.e. NSA have direct access to Apple, Google, MS, servers etc ... very quickly became, NSA taps data lines.

Also, it is my understanding, that the slide/documents this story comes from relates to the original iPhone OS back in 2007/08 and it states they can only do it with access to the phone.

The NSA aren't going to route every iPhone to hack it, they'd only do it to very specific targets and chances are if they are going to do that, they'd swap it out for a jailbroken iPhone they can get full remote access to, to collect all the data from it.

I have no doubt the NSA have attempted to and possibly succeeded to hack iPhones (and other) but their job is to crack encryption. Whether they are doing this on a mass scale is very unlikely IMO.

Dev from tipb says:

The original stories were never that the NSA had "direct" access to Apple/Google/MS data...they were that the NSA had access to NSA data. The term "direct access" was never used in any of what you call the "original leaks" -- it was first used by industry groups in response to those stories.

mike5 says:

I agree. I find it very far fetched that nobody notices all these phones being hijacked enroute in order to be tampered with/have malware installed--it's not like only one person would notice this diversion/interception of the devices and would be virtually impossible to keep quiet. Furthermore, though I am no expert, it seems we have tons on these forums who are, so if malware has been installed, wouldn't someone be able to discover it? Has any phone, much less iPhone been discovered to have this malware? Now, if an iPhone is headed to a known area of the world or to a specific suspected bad guy, I can see and understand why something like this may be done, but to assume we have the manpower and expertise to do this to every mobile device...look at our country's technical capabilities w/regard to the Affordable Care Act and you may rethink what some of these leaks are claiming--I just think everyone has maybe seen one too many Jason Bourne movies and because we may theoretically have certain capabilities, doesn't mean it is being done, though I can see why people may buy into the conspiracy. I am all for security and privacy rights, but this seems just a little far fetched to me.

richard451 says:

Typical lawyer speak from apple (they pulled the same shenanigans with the tax fiasco). Notice that the denial doesn't say anything about working with the CSS (the other organization responsible for the explosive document and the actual agency that does electronic survelience). The sad part of this means apple is saying they have some of the most inept security programmers in technology

richard451 says:

I need to clarify my last sentence as it doesn't read fair to Apple. What I am commenting on is the state of coding prowess for iOS in 2008. I suspect security was a very low priority for iOS back then (since iOS was lacking a lot of features), where now it is probably a much higher priority (since iOS is feature complete)

ccppl208 says:

Happy new Year all of you :))

Sent from the iMore App

ccppl208 says:

Happy new Year all of you :))

Sent from the iMore App

stewm says:

These stories are becoming more and more fantastical. It's starting to seem that it could be just as likely a form of terrorism by a group spreading these rumors.

All I can say is that by the amount of data that they have admitted to collecting and other methods that these stories are claiming that the NSA are so overwhelmed with data that the ability for the NSA to pin-point potential terrorist acts becomes slimmer and slimmer!

Even with what they had admitted to having collected any genuinely useful information or data is lost in the mammoth amount of crap they have collected.

That's like putting your hand into a swimming pool full of ping pong balls each with an individual number and being able to find a ball with one specific number mixed in among the millions of other balls and doing it first time. The chances are slim.

I am sure that we will hear them claim weeks or months after some terrorist act that they had the information that pointed to it but had only just managed to assimilate that data to realize that they had the information.

Redshirt says:

Potentially. Could also be certain politicians trying to distract people from their other developing fiascos. It's not like they haven't done it before.

asuperstarr says:

I don't think apple operates this way. 2014 will bring many new developments regarding privacy.

Sent from the iMore App

khobia2 says:

I think this more of let's diss Apple. Guess the guy had to fire the last shot of the year at Cupertino. Think he is just blowing a lot of hot air out his a$&.

Sent from the iMore App

zdn1042 says:

I really don't think this applies to the current line up of iPhones. Maybe this was 3-4 years ago?


In 2008 apple security was horrible at that time if you were using wifi on your iphone 3g it would send your information over the air completely unencrypted. Jailbreaks were being found every week. Top level NSA hackers would have been able to create their own back door into apple. It would have been like taking candy from a baby.

Premium1 says:

Not surprising they say this. Would you actually expect them to say anything different?

Sent from the iMore App