There's a story going around that quotes NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's lawyer as saying Snowden won't use an iPhone because it has "special software" that could gather information about him. Instead, the lawyer says, Snowden has a simple phone". There's no first-hand account from Snowden and no details about what the "special software" might be — a web cookie? who knows! — but that hasn't stopped the quote from making its way across the sensationalism-over-security parts of the internet. So, what's really going?
Here's the full quote, via Sputnik News:
"Edward never uses an IPhone, he's got a simple phone… The iPhone has special software that can activate itself without the owner, having to press a button and gather information about him, that's why on security grounds he refused to have this phone," Anatoly Kucherena told RIA Novosti.
Again, nothing directly from Snowden and no real information on what he's purportedly concerned about. But here's the thing — if you're Edward Snowden, the phone you'd most want to be using right now is the closest thing to a rock you can find.
Modern smartphones are smart — they're computers. Computers run complex operating systems and apps. If you're Edward Snowden, never mind exploits, you probably don't want to have anything to do with things like web browsers and cookies. If you're Edward Snowden, you probably want to use something as dumb and disposable as possible — probably many burner phones, burned with incredible frequency...
For most everyone else, including almost everyone reading this, there's absolutely nothing to be concerned about here.
No new security exploits were disclosed by Snowden's lawyer in that story, and Apple has been good about responding to previous exploits. UDID tracking, which some have, for some reason, decided to link to the story, was shut-down by Apple years ago. In fact, when it comes to privacy, Apple couldn't have been more clear. (Their stance on end-to-end encryption has even led to FUD being spread by law-enforcement agencies.)
Absent any new exploits or disclosures, it's a non-story. Worse, by once again contributing to the noise, by putting the iPhone in quotes and headlines just to get attention, by making everything sound scary, it makes legitimately scary stories harder to distinguish. And when it comes to things as important as security and privacy, we need to be able to tell the legitimate stories from the noise.