In a spy plot, Russia claims the US hacked thousands of Apple phones.
Moscow: On Thursday, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that it had found an American espionage operation that had infiltrated thousands of iPhones using cutting-edge monitoring software.
The operation affected the devices of dozens of Kaspersky Lab personnel, according to the Moscow-based company.
Several thousand Apple Inc. devices, including those of domestic Russian users and foreign diplomats based in Russia and the former Soviet Union, were infected, according to the FSB, the principal successor to the Soviet-era KGB.
According to a statement from the FSB, the US special services were engaging in information gathering using Apple mobile devices.
The National Security Agency (NSA), a U.S. government organisation in charge of communications security and cryptography intelligence, and Apple worked together "closely" on the conspiracy, according to the FSB. The FSB offered no proof that Apple assisted the espionage operation or was even aware of it.
Apple vehemently refuted the claim in a statement. The company stated in a statement, "We have never collaborated with any government to insert a backdoor into any Apple product and never will.
The NSA chose not to respond.
The operation, which Kaspersky CEO Eugene Kaspersky described as "an exceptionally intricate, professionally focused cyberattack" that had targeted staff in "upper and middle-management," compromised the phones of dozens of his colleagues, according to Kaspersky.
According to Igor Kuznetsov, a researcher with Kaspersky, his business independently observed unusual traffic on its workplace Wi-Fi network at the beginning of the year. He claimed that Kaspersky did not inform Russia's Computer Emergency Response Team of its findings until early on Thursday.
He said that he was unable to respond to Moscow's accusations that Americans were behind the hacking or that thousands of other people had also been targeted.
It's really challenging to assign blame, he remarked.
Kaspersky claimed in a blog post that the earliest virus traces it found were from 2019. The attack is still going on as of the writing in June 2023, the company reported. Even if its employees were harmed, "we are fairly convinced that Kaspersky was not the main objective of this incident," the company continued.
According to the FSB, the American hackers used their espionage operations to compromise diplomats from NATO members, China, Israel, Syria, and Syria.
Israeli authorities chose not to comment. Representatives from China, Syria, and NATO were not immediately available for comment.
According to Harvard University's Belfer Center Cyber 2022 Power Index, the United States is the top cyber power in the world in terms of intent and capacity, followed by China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
The seriousness of the situation was highlighted by the Kremlin and the Russian foreign ministry.
According to a statement from Russia's foreign ministry, "the secret data collection was carried out through software flaws in mobile phones built in the United States."
In order to gather extensive data on Internet users without their awareness, the U.S. intelligence services have been exploiting Technology businesses for decades, according to the ministry.
Russian officials said that the FSB and the Federal Guards Service (FSO), a potent organisation that oversees the Kremlin guards and was formerly the KGB's Ninth Directorate, worked together to unearth the scheme.
Authorities in Russia have long questioned the security of American technology, and Western spies claim that Moscow has built a highly sophisticated domestic surveillance infrastructure.
All members of the presidential administration are aware that devices like iPhones are "totally transparent," according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The Kremlin warned officials preparing for Russia's 2024 presidential election earlier this year to stop using Apple iPhones due to worries that the gadgets are susceptible to Western espionage services, according to the Kommersant newspaper.