Report reveals NSA can access most smartphones

Android vs. iOs? Neither, the NSA can hack into both.

The National Security Agency’s (NSA) ability to hack into most leading smartphones, including iOs and Android systems, has been revealed in a Sunday report by news outlet Der Spiegel.

The internal documents expose the NSA's ability to gather contacts, call lists, SMS traffic, notes and even users' past and present location.

Each operating system allegedly has a dedicated hacking team, which we assume is for the purposes of gathering saved data in an efficient manner. However, iPhone users were apparently most prone to being hacked as a mini-program called “scripts” can gain access to dozens of vulnerable iOs features.

The findings do not come as a revelation, considering that we revealed US$52 billion dollars had been set aside for intelligence programs in the latest budget.

Der Spiegel says the phone tapping is not a mass surveillance tactic and claims only certain individuals of interest are targeted. It is not clear how the magazine obtained the documents, which haven't surfaced until now. However, there is speculation that American filmmaker and Der Spiegal author Laura Poitras may have obtained the information through whistleblower Edward Snowden.

At this stage, information about the number of phones that can be monitored is unclear. Until then, we certainly hope that the number is nowhere near the extent of the internet surveillance capabilities.

Source: RT | Image: Digital Trends

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Pre-orders begin for Windows eye-tracking hardware SDK

Next Story

Facebook Beta for Windows Phone now supports devices with 256MB RAM

40 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

how about an app to warn us or tell us when someone is hacking into our smartphones??
Just like a network monitor thingy this must be achievable,right?whoever is doing the hacking, crooks or nsa must leave traces and that can show up or be detected?

Whoa! NSA already spied on that criminal who is very greedy for money on the smartphone or computer around the world since 2009. I heard about romance scam over the internet often.

Raa said,
Ahh, the classic "answer the question with a question" tactic.

I don't have the source for his statement because I didn't make his statement. But you seem to think it's true, so I am asking what source you have to back that up.

If you read carefully, the original article is written in a way to specifically avoid talking about whether the NSA has to have physical access to the device to perform these hacks. I find this rather suspicious.

For example, for an iPhone, if you have access to the computer the phone was synced with, you inherently have everything on the phone and. I googled this article and even the original Der Spiegel article does not make a distinction.

esaleris said,
If you read carefully, the original article is written in a way to specifically avoid talking about whether the NSA has to have physical access to the device to perform these hacks. I find this rather suspicious.

For example, for an iPhone, if you have access to the computer the phone was synced with, you inherently have everything on the phone and. I googled this article and even the original Der Spiegel article does not make a distinction.


Yeah, I'm so used to these articles about articles about articles painting a picture so far off-base that there's no reason to take it even with a grain of salt. Looking at the actual Der Spiegel article, the first thing I noticed was how painfully coy they were, choosing their words as pointedly as a Guardian article would. The second thing I noticed was how they just barely hinted that this 'access' was achieved by getting a user to install a script on their PC that enabled access to the computer, and if the computer had iTunes, they would then be able to access iPhone content iTunes had synced. Not exactly "accessing a phone", but hey, outrage means clicks, right?

And then they go on about how Blackberry was hacked _similarly_, but no further details on what that means.

This whole story is crap without more information, but hey, nobody's allowed to be a skeptic when we're at war with The Man, right?

Now this is really getting disgusting NSA. Hack, backdoor every system under the disguise of National Security? Imagine the consequences if those backdoor accesses or ways to access or obtained by those people who you put forward to justify your actions like these? If your these classified top-secrets can leak then so can those backdoors.

yowanvista said,
No wonder why people from the rest of the world hate the U.S and its attacks on the sovereignty of other countries.

Oh there are so many more reasons that this to hate the USA. All countries screw up, but when one is a superpower, their screw ups are far more grand.

(Proud USA citizen, but not always a fan of the course my country takes.)

Problem isn't just the screwing up, its the arrogance of the US and its citizens, thinking they are actually the greatest nation in the world and that the world should revolve around the US of A.
Not just the government that acts and thinks such.
But the people themselves do exactly the same... America is all that matters, most important market and country in the world..

While the US of A is a 1st world and 3rd world country in 1, it is indeed special and one of a kind! With close to 30% of your people living as poor smucks.... Ghetto area's that make suburban south Africa look like a kindergarten.
The rest of the world knows the USA is breaking apart and going down the drain... Stop acting like your country is so great and instead DO SOMETHING TO MAKE YOUR COUNTRY GREAT

Shadowzz said,
Problem isn't just the screwing up, its the arrogance of the US and its citizens, thinking they are actually the greatest nation in the world and that the world should revolve around the US of A.
Not just the government that acts and thinks such.
But the people themselves do exactly the same... America is all that matters, most important market and country in the world..

While the US of A is a 1st world and 3rd world country in 1, it is indeed special and one of a kind! With close to 30% of your people living as poor smucks.... Ghetto area's that make suburban south Africa look like a kindergarten.
The rest of the world knows the USA is breaking apart and going down the drain... Stop acting like your country is so great and instead DO SOMETHING TO MAKE YOUR COUNTRY GREAT

Sadly I have to agree; however, be careful with the generalization.

There is an errant form of nationalism in the USA that is mindless.

However there is a level of nationalism that embraces the diversity of cultures and individuals that the founding laws encourage, and these are a good thing and somewhat unique to the US.

They were more unique in prior timeframes, but were influential in good ways to world. Even in the year 2009, the USA was the first major western country to elect a person of African ancestry. This is where the 'melting pot' of peoples and cultures won out over the crazed political polarization.

Going back further, the breakup of the class and cast predated most other societies. Easy comparison - pre-WWII England.


I am very much a USA citizen, but no longer have the rose colored glasses that commonly indoctrinates us at younger ages.

I have lived in Holland and Belgium, and this helped to break from the (USA #1 Rules). However, I was already letting go of this concept at a young age long before I even traveled abroad.

All countries have shameful histories, and like I said, when your country is a bigger player economically or with empirical military might, the sins affect more people around the world.

Overall, I agree with your post and wish I could do more.

Being a political junkie, I have always been active even as a teenager.

However, the tides are tricky and it sometime crushing to see a decline in intellectual understanding of the majority of the populace when we live in a time where more information is available than before.

Right now the entire world seems to be having the same intellectual disconnect of understanding.

So the possibility remains that I may give up the fight and end up in Sint Maarten or move back to Belgium

The nationalism has some good points for sure and some aspects we Europeans can learn from it.
And I am well aware of what power does to a country(and its citizens), I'm dutch and know my countries history very well And I'm sure it's a phase the US has to go through and hopefully wont last as long as previous western/global nations.
It needs people throttling it, it's what happened to previous global powers. If it wasn't for an internal collapse or struggle, they would've never hit the brakes. Lets just hope we learned from previous times as nations/countries/humanity.
And Belgium has its own issues
In general I'm glad currently with a country like the US, as I'm part of the West, it's the only one that has the balls to at least try and do something in the world.

And with more information available, there is to much information available.

-adrian- said,
ah okay.. the smartphone market doesn't look to bad for windows phone though.. well.. except of that great nation of US

Yeah but somehow, the US is only what matters.... stupid Muricans with their tunnelvision... get out of your cave you ******s and learn that there's 6,5billion more people out there.

No country is so selfish and arrogant as the US and its citizens... geesh

Shadowzz said,

Yeah but somehow, the US is only what matters.... stupid Muricans with their tunnelvision... get out of your cave you ******s and learn that there's 6,5billion more people out there.

No country is so selfish and arrogant as the US and its citizens... geesh

As someone who's lived in several countries around the world, and am now back home and living in the US, I couldn't agree more. Most are completely oblivious to the world around them over here... my favorite thing to do is bust out a map and ask people to find other prominent countries for me, pure comedy every time.

Hopefully this "we're the center of the world" attitude will start to die out with the new generation. Heck, it's already started, it's just a matter of time.

Shadowzz said,

Yeah but somehow, the US is only what matters.... stupid Muricans with their tunnelvision... get out of your cave you ******s and learn that there's 6,5billion more people out there.

No country is so selfish and arrogant as the US and its citizens... geesh

Really? I think Europe can be pretty arrogant at time. That's why we broke away from you all. We started off great, then the power hungry European came in and ruined it all. I mean, think about it...most of the republican are descendants of people who migrated from European countries. AM I right?

So if you want be right, then tell it all. Even Hispanics that come from South America or even Mexico are nothing like the ones that come from Spain.

American are great people once you get to know us. Just like anyone else can be. As with any nation, there is a good and bad side. I would say, the larger the population, the more bad you have. There is only 350M people in the US, how many people live in all of Europe?

I think it was pretty arrogant for you to say what you said about us. Proof is in the pudding. As far as your claim of being selfish? When bombings took place in London and other places in Europe, the US was right their to offer some assistance. How many of you came here an offered assistance after 9/11 and other things bad that happen here? When Japan has the Tsunami, the US offered assistance and even when Japn had earthquakes, we also offer assistance.

But when the USA had hurricanes like Andrew and others that ripped through some of our states, how many humanitarian crates did you all drop? I don't recall seeing any of you over here helping, yet the USA always does. Who's selfish now?

Edited by Hi_XPecTa_Chens, Sep 11 2013, 8:11pm :

Not surprising at all. Worth noting: Windows Phone is not on the list. The common thread amongst all the others? Java.

What are you on about? Yes Android is built on Java but it uses its own runtime environment and Java has nothing to do with IOS and according to this IOS is the most prone.

That was a cheap try at attempting to blame this on Java - which failed miserably as Java is not the cause at all.

Nas said,
Not surprising at all. Worth noting: Windows Phone is not on the list. The common thread amongst all the others? Java.

You'll probably find this information is a few years old, snowden's leaked stuff isn't recent stuff, and seeing as the NSA have an agreement with google, ms, apple etc. you can bet they've had things planted so that they can gain access anyway.

Nas said,
Not surprising at all. Worth noting: Windows Phone is not on the list. The common thread amongst all the others? Java.

Just because it wasn't mentioned doesn't mean it's not being targeted, otherwise, all possible suspects can just go get a WP device and be immune to all this? Too easy to be true. I can bet you money that any device that is being sold by AT&T, Verizon, etc (and all carriers have WP devices) is on their list..

Obry said,

Just because it wasn't mentioned doesn't mean it's not being targeted, otherwise, all possible suspects can just go get a WP device and be immune to all this? Too easy to be true. I can bet you money that any device that is being sold by AT&T, Verizon, etc (and all carriers have WP devices) is on their list..

Windows Phone's market share would leap to 100% if all possible suspects went out and bought one.

Obry said,

Just because it wasn't mentioned doesn't mean it's not being targeted, otherwise, all possible suspects can just go get a WP device and be immune to all this? Too easy to be true. I can bet you money that any device that is being sold by AT&T, Verizon, etc (and all carriers have WP devices) is on their list..

The original report going back many months, and even this report SPECIFICALLY says that Windows Phone is able to be targeted.

Nas said,
Not surprising at all. Worth noting: Windows Phone is not on the list. The common thread amongst all the others? Java.

Ryano121 said,
What are you on about? Yes Android is built on Java but it uses its own runtime environment and Java has nothing to do with IOS and according to this IOS is the most prone.

That was a cheap try at attempting to blame this on Java - which failed miserably as Java is not the cause at all.

Java can be an access point, but it is not an easy way or traditional how the NSA is accessing these or any Unix based device.

The commonality is the UNIX OS Model and its universal/generic I/O model.

Even though Linux/OS X(Android/iOS) programmers deal with higher level libraries for things like Audio or printing today, the core foundation of UNIX still upholds the same model that treats everything as abstract devices. A less important, but also relevant aspect of Unix is its use of generic text throughout the system.

In the early days, this was brilliant, as I/O no longer had to have special knowledge to deal with various devices, whether it was tape drive, printer, or a keyboard.
(This was when complexity was solved by simplicity. Around the mid 90s, this benefit was lost on the increasing hardware and software complexity and why we need the upper level libraries to 'duct tape' the inherent lack of functionality in Unix.)

So originally, this made UNIX easy to work with any system and is at heart where some of the 'openness' ideas are based. As UNIX was able to work with anything.

Sadly, this 'universal/generic' model is also where the 'myth' comes from that UNIX is more extensible or portable than a more complex object based OS like NT.

This is where the NSA usually works, as most security in modern *nix implementations like Linux and OS X (Android/iOS) deal with the higher level and more structured libraries.

This leaves the potential for not only universal input holes but rather simplistic ways at a very low level to 'read' data below the FS driver, 'read' audio from the microphone, or 'read' video from the camera.

The 'universal' and 'generic' and 'textual' nature of the Unix OS model makes it easy to obtain data even with a simple access point, and due to the universal nature of 'input' I/O, getting this access point is not as hard as the world would like to believe.

Side Note...

This whole topic that contrasts the Unix OS model to other more modern OSes like NT's object based model is used to demonstrate how generic systems work with simple systems well, and stricter/defined/object systems work better with increasingly complex systems. The same arguments were used in the RISC/CISC debates.

In my opinion, the world needs to get over the Unix model and move on to at least an object based OS model like NT (even if it is an OSS project) as the Unix model is technically capable, but is not worth the extensibility and performance costs that it requires to deal with newer technologies.

Mobius Enigma said,

The original report going back many months, and even this report SPECIFICALLY says that Windows Phone is able to be targeted.

Just noticed a 'massive' typo that changes the context of this post. It should read...

The original report going back many months, and even this report SPECIFICALLY says that Windows Phone is NOT able to be targeted.

0--JLowzrif said,
And here ladies and gentlemen we have a fine example of the Dunning-Kruger effect in action.

Anyone that your post would be directed would fail to apply it to themselves. Right?