Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has alleged that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) utilized iPhone backdoor vulnerabilities to spy on Russian officials and civilians. The FSB claims to have discovered an NSA plot involving previously unknown malware that exploited these backdoors, infecting several thousand iPhones in Russia.
According to a statement, the FSB uncovered an intelligence action of the American special services using Apple devices. They accused Apple of providing the NSA access to monitor individuals of interest to the White House in anti-Russian activities, including Russian citizens.
The alleged intelligence operation targeted iPhones belonging to Russian users and foreign diplomats stationed in Russia, including from Israel, Syria, and China. The FSB asserts that its investigation was assisted by Russia's Federal Guards Service, which is responsible for safeguarding the country's leaders.
Russia's foreign ministry supported the actions, stating, "The US intelligence services have been using IT corporations for decades in order to collect large-scale data of Internet users without their knowledge."
Russia has long expressed concerns about the security of US technology and has previously raised questions about the methods employed by Western intelligence agencies. President Vladimir Putin has claimed not to use a smartphone himself, although the Kremlin acknowledged that he occasionally accesses the internet.
Earlier this year, the Kremlin instructed officials involved in preparations for the 2024 presidential election to discontinue using iPhones. This decision was made due to concerns about the devices' vulnerability to Western intelligence agencies.
While the United States and Russia have engaged in intelligence operations and accusations against each other, the methods and specifics of gathering intelligence remain closely guarded. For instance, how Western spies gained intelligence regarding President Putin's alleged plans to invade Ukraine last year remains undisclosed.
Apple and the NSA have not yet responded to requests for comment.