Russian officials warned not to use Apple devices
Officials should never use Apple devices at work due to the threat of surveillance by foreign intelligence, the speaker of the upper chamber of Russian parliament, Valentina Matvienko, has suggested.
“It’s clear why people are ditching iPhones. At the very least, they certainly cannot be used for work purposes, because our non-partners [Western nations] are snooping after the entire world,” she said on Tuesday during a session, insisting the devices are a risk in terms of national and personal security.
Apple stands out among mobile device producers for using the closed iOS operating system and strictly controlling the apps available to users. The feature, which inevitably undermines its competition, is touted as significantly boosting cybersecurity.
Nevertheless, Apple devices are hackable. According to multiple media reports, a number of firms around the world offer clients services in breaching iPhone defenses to extract information or conduct surveillance. Such hacking tools are purportedly meant for law enforcement agencies to combat organized crime and terrorism.
In some cases, most notably with the Israeli spy kit Pegasus, developers were accused of exposing people’s phones to abusive leaders who would then go after their political opponents, foreign officials, and journalists.
Some Russian agencies have previously expressed concern about Apple’s popularity and the potential for the firm to give backdoor access to its devices to the US intelligence community.
Last month, the security service FSB accused the CIA of infecting thousands of iPhones with malware to spy on users. The targets included Russian and foreign diplomats, it said. The agency claimed that Apple was “providing the American intelligence services with a wide range of opportunities to survey any persons of interest to the White House.”
Matvienko noted that she and other Russian senators were not banned from bringing Apple devices into parliament because “it would not matter, since we mostly conduct public hearings.”
“But when we hold sessions behind closed doors, where a certain level of secrecy is required, no phones at all are allowed, not just iPhones,” she added.