Leaked Documents Suggest CIA Work on Hacked Version of Xcode, OS X Installer Exploit

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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United States Central Intelligence Agency researchers have been working for years to crack the security of Apple's iPhone and iPad, and may have done so through the creation of a modified version of Xcode, Apple's software development tool designed for developers.

According to secret documents obtained by The Intercept, at a 2012 "Jamboree" that focused on security flaws found in various electronics, CIA researchers outlined both a hacked version of Xcode and a modified OS X updater that could be used to install malicious software like keyloggers.
The modified version of Xcode, the researchers claimed, could enable spies to steal passwords and grab messages on infected devices. Researchers also claimed the modified Xcode could "force all iOS applications to send embedded data to a listening post." It remains unclear how intelligence agencies would get developers to use the poisoned version of Xcode.
The malicious version of Xcode could potentially be used to extract private data from devices that installed apps built by the hacked Xcode. Some of the things researchers said could be done with Xcode included installing "remote backdoors" in Mac apps, embedding an app developer's private key into iOS applications (letting the government masquerade as the targeted developer), forcing iOS apps to send data from an iPhone or iPad to a "listening post," and disabling core security features on iOS devices.

None of the documents detail how the Xcode and OS X installer exploits have been used by the CIA, and they also don't state whether the efforts have been successful, but as noted by The Intercept, they suggest that the government's efforts to crack the security technology companies employ is a continually ongoing effort.

Apple and the U.S. government have been at odds over privacy and security issues in recent years. A 2013 document leak suggested that Apple and other tech companies were working with the government on a secret project called PRISM, which allegedly provided the government with direct access to customer data on company servers.

Apple and multiple other technology companies like Google vehemently denied their participation in such a program and have since gone to great lengths to ensure the public that they're not involved in the government's spying attempts. Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other companies banded together to ask for greater surveillance transparency and the ability to share more info on government data requests with consumers, which was ultimately successful.

Apple launched a privacy site in September of 2014 outlining the privacy features of its products and services and offering detailed information on government information requests. Across 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook began putting a heavy emphasis on the importance of privacy, and with iOS 8, Apple significantly increased the encryption protection on iOS devices. Prior to iOS 8, Apple had the ability to access data on iOS devices with a company-held encryption key, and now, that no longer exists. Google has made similar changes.

The FBI has strongly opposed Apple's efforts to increase the security of its iOS devices, with FBI Director James Comey insisting that government access to electronic devices is necessary in some cases. Apple has reportedly been in talks with FBI officials over its security changes, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has maintained Apple's commitment to privacy and security.

At the White House Cyber Security Summit in February, Cook said customer trust means everything to Apple. "When it comes to the rights of customers and citizens, we're all talking about the same people," he said. "People have entrusted us with their most personal and precious information and we owe them nothing less than the best protections we can possibly provide by harnessing the technology at our disposal."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Leaked Documents Suggest CIA Work on Hacked Version of Xcode, OS X Installer Exploit
 

sputnikv

macrumors 6502
Oct 3, 2009
496
3,096
this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone at this point. that in itself should be alarming
 

impulse462

macrumors 68000
Jun 3, 2009
1,945
2,554
Every new article on them, it just becomes less of a surprise and more of an expectation.
 

JonneyGee

macrumors 6502
Jun 8, 2011
348
1,208
Nashville, TN
No surprise that they're working on something. The good news is we have no evidence that they were able to successfully implement it into other developers' apps.
 

Reason077

macrumors 68020
Aug 14, 2007
2,286
882
I wish people would stop being so suspicious of agencies like the CIA. These hard working men and women are there to protect us all. From the terrorists.

We all live in a safer and more secure world, thanks to the CIA!
 

theheadguy

macrumors 65816
Apr 26, 2005
1,123
1,322
california
If there is even one person on here who is actually surprised by this, I have to wonder if their eyes are open to the world right now.
 

giantfan1224

macrumors 6502a
Mar 9, 2012
870
1,115
It's all part of that Transparency in Government initiative that Obama ran on. Or did he ditch that a long time ago?
 

bushido

Suspended
Mar 26, 2008
8,070
2,754
Germany
I wish people would stop being so suspicious of agencies like the CIA. These hard working men and women are there to protect us all. From the terrorists.

We all live in a safer and more secure world, thanks to the CIA!
i love your sarcasm
 

OldSchoolMacGuy

Suspended
Jul 10, 2008
4,197
9,050
We've sold all kinds of fun stuff like this to the government for years. Unless they're going to totally rewrite *nix they're going to have a hard time preventing it.
 

the8thark

macrumors 601
Apr 18, 2011
4,066
1,038
I wish people would stop being so suspicious of agencies like the CIA. These hard working men and women are there to protect us all. From the terrorists.

We all live in a safer and more secure world, thanks to the CIA!
Yes so called (by the CIA) terrorists like Assange and Snowden . . . going after the genuine heroes of those world as those 2 I mentioned are.
 

martygras9

macrumors 6502
Aug 13, 2007
264
73
I wish people would stop being so suspicious of agencies like the CIA. These hard working men and women are there to protect us all. From the terrorists.

We all live in a safer and more secure world, thanks to the CIA!
I love you, comrade.
 

antonis

macrumors 68020
Jun 10, 2011
2,085
1,008
Seriously, what's wrong with US governments and their spying obsessions ? Do they really think than turning the entire world into a controlled dictatorship will make it a better place ?
 

the8thark

macrumors 601
Apr 18, 2011
4,066
1,038
It's all part of that Transparency in Government initiative that Obama ran on. Or did he ditch that a long time ago?
You think this idea only came around when Obama got power? This idea of the government hating non governmental security has been there for decades.
 

derek4484

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2010
352
109
Pretty despicable what our government is doing. Everything they do to hack and infiltrate American's computers, phones, tablets, etc is a clear violation of Federal anti-hacking and computer fraud and abuse laws. Yet they do it anyways and the DOJ refuses to ever investigate how many laws our government breaks.

When what you do is a crime and when the government does it, it's legal...thats how you know you live under a tyrannical government.
 
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