UK Government reportedly bans iPads from secret meetings for fear of spying

For fear of them being 'hacked' and used to 'listen in' on secret meetings, the UK Government has reportedly banned iPads from all sensitive talks. Multiple UK newspapers have run the story this weekend, and while these are just reports, fear of spying is allegedly topic number 1 for their removal. From The Mail on Sunday:

The No 10 security team was very jumpy about last week’s Cabinet meeting. The cause of their concern: the presence of a clutch of iPads. Their worry was that the devices could be hacked by a foreign power and used to listen in to Cabinet. So, Ministers were instructed not to touch them.

It also extends to other mobile devices, so says The Telegraph:

Ministers in sensitive government departments have been issued with soundproof lead-lined boxes, which they must place their mobiles in when having sensitive conversations, it emerged this week.

Espionage from the likes of China, Iran and Pakistan is feared, with it claimed that those countries have developed the technology to turn devices such as phones and tablets into listening devices, even when it is switched off. I'm no security expert, so if you understand what's claimed to be going on drop me a line in the comments. But it seems like good old fashioned pen and paper from now on if you're going to be involved in any secret Government meetings here in Blighty.

Source: The Mail on Sunday, The Telegraph via The Verge

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Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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Reader comments

UK Government reportedly bans iPads from secret meetings for fear of spying


Agreed. The title is highly misleading and implies only iPads are being banned when the ban extends to mobile devices in general.

I'm still not understanding how a device or it's components could be used remotely to eavesdrop on a conversation. Wouldn't the hardware need to powered up? And in some cases wouldn't the operating system need to be running to control its components?
Let's say your home has a blackout... Your security service couldn't check any monitoring devices (without a battery backup) to see what was happening in your home... Right?

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In short, yes. However, ask yourself this, can you be certain that a device that has no removable battery is truly turned off? Does the screen need to be on for a device to be in use? The answer is no. Mobile devices have Microphones and cameras, all of which can be accessed remotely. On android devices, there are several antitheft apps that allow this. Computers can be powered on remotely without the users knowledge. Phones are the same

Wouldn't it be impossible to hack a mobile device without the user installing an app that opens up a back door to allow this, and as far as I'm aware there is no Malware on iOS, and it's technically impossible to hack say a non smartphone without the user actually being on a call. Also doesn't flight mode turn off all radios thus making the device unable to be remotely controlled?

Also isn't an iPad or other Mobile device technically turned off when it's been powered down by the user, I've never received and Phone Calls or Messages when my Phone has been turned off.

If the NSA or some other government wanted to embed backdoors in the hardware chips or insert malicious code into persistent memory, I wouldn't doubt their ability to do so.

Like that will stop big mouthed politicians from opening their gobs. That's what always happens. They open and tell people, all in the 'hush hush' and that's the cause.

Guess the latest is to blame hackers and tablets for the cause. They really do need to grow up and when they tell their buddies at cocktails all that is said and done in the privacy of cabinet meetings etc is leaked out to look at themselves and their mouths and their friends and then hold their hand up high and say "I was that 'tard that told the world" and not try and find a scapegoat in their Tablet, their smartphone, etc.

The reason for leaks is the same cause that has troubled governments for hundreds of years. They utilize their little head before putting their big head to work.

No mention of the NSA? But, but, they are allies. Bullshit. The NSA has proven they will listen to everyone including their own citizens. The human race needs to grow up.

Apple is an American company, based in the United States of America. Within the domain of the Government of the United States of America. Can you honestly say, Apple can't get into your Idevice if they so choose? That they cannot be forced by the Govt to provide Access?