In response to serious allegations of ‘backdoor’ access provided to NSA, Apple has released information on the diagnostic capabilities in the iOS to add some lights on security researchers allegations.
Apple explains that the services are used by developers, troubleshooting by IT employees and AppleCare representatives. The data that is transmitted between the device and PC is encrypted with keys and remains invisible to Apple. The company adds that the services can be accessed remotely by users who have enabled Wi-Fi sync with Apple iTunes.
“We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues,” said Tim Bradshaw, Apple spokesperson.
During the HOPE/X conference, Security expert Jonathan Zdziarski stated that the com.apple.mobile.pcapd, com.apple.mobile.file_relay services were used by Apple to provide “backdoor” access to NSA. He further added that pcapd and mobile.file_relay can be used to access data through Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G connection.
However Zdziarski did not accuse Apple for providing access to NSA but explains the use of the services and points out the unnecessary services in iOS. Apple denied the claims by stating that the services for better experience and data is never collected without user consent. He lauded Apple for their report on these services and expects the company to further address the issues in future iOS releases.
Apple added that it had never worked with any government agency of any country to create a backdoor in their products and services.
Earlier in January, Apple has reiterated that it has not worked with any agency and was unaware of the program, Responding to the NSA’s alleged “DROPOUTJEEP” program which was leaked by a security researcher Jacob Appelbaum. He leaked a series of documents about the program which allows backdoor access to iPhones and published by German magazine Der Spiegel. DROPOUTJEEP software can be implanted on any iPhone, provides SIGINT, which allows to send or receive files from the phone. The phone’s location, voice mails, contact lists also can be retrieved. Camera and Microphone can be turned on without the users knowledge and data removal over wireless data connections.
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