Apple begins encrypting iCloud email sent between providers

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Last month Apple confirmed that it would soon beef up encryption for iCloud email following a report detailing security flaws in major email services. While Apple previously encrypted emails sent between its own iCloud customers, now the company has enabled encryption for emails in transit between iCloud and third-party services for me.com and mac.com email addresses. 

The change is documented on Google’s transparency website that shows the percentage of emails encrypted in transit for both inbound and outbound email exchanges (pictured below): Read more

Chinese state TV annoyed by NSA, takes it out on Apple

The WSJ reports that the state-run China Central TV has described the iPhone as a “national security concern” due to its location-tracking capabilities.

In its national noon broadcast, state-run China Central Television criticized the “frequent locations” function in Apple’s iOS 7 mobile operating system, which tracks and records the time and location of the owner’s movements. The report quoted researchers who said that those with access to that data could gain knowledge of the broader situation in China or “even state secrets” …

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Tim Cook among tech CEOs German committee may want to testify in NSA investigation

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Apple’s association with the United States National Security Agency may once again put the company in the spotlight as Germany begins to investigate the agency’s recent activity. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, members of a German parliamentary commission want the heads of a number of US-based tech companies, including Apple, to participate in their investigation of the NSA’s involvement in monitoring German officials.

Apple, for its part, has denied direct involvement with PRISM program and repeatedly said it has not allowed the government to have direct access to its servers. Read more

Apple provides update on government requests as tech companies reach settlement with DOJ

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Just a few days later after Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed his thoughts about the NSA and data collection transparency, Apple has posted an update to its website with new information regarding account data requests. The company’s press release comes as US Department of Justice comes to a settlement with technology companies over how they are allowed to disclose information about government data requests.

A statement from the DOJ explains the agreement will allow “detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities.” Due to these new guidelines, Apple has now been able to report FISA and National Security Letters separate from law enforcement requests as show in its graphics above and below.  It also notes the new data released today replaces the U.S. data from its Feb. 5 2013 Report on Government Information Requests.

Apple-National-Security-orders-02Apple has been working closely with the White House, the U.S. Attorney General, congressional leaders, and the Department of Justice to advocate for greater transparency with regard to the national security orders we receive. We believe strongly that our customers have the right to understand how their personal information is being handled, and we are pleased the government has developed new rules that allow us to more accurately report law enforcement orders and national security orders in the U.S.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview that he would push congress for more transparency regarding controversial surveillance programs and how companies can disclose information related to information requests. At the time, Cook said that there was much the company couldn’t speak about due to gag orders:

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New leaked docs show NSA collects personal data from smartphone apps

New documents leaked by Edward Snowden and reported by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica detail how the NSA and its British counterpart can collect users’ personal data through smartphone apps. The reports specifically mention popular apps like Angry Birds, Twitter, Google Maps and Facebook and claim the NSA is capable of intercepting information ranging from location, age, and sex of users to address books, buddy lists, phone logs, geographic data and more:

The N.S.A. and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters were working together on how to collect and store data from dozens of smartphone apps by 2007, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. Since then, the agencies have traded recipes for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.

At least one of the app developers, Rovio, is not surprisingly unaware of any of the activity mentioned in the documents, but it will be up to the app developers, Apple, and Google to address the issue and clarify for users if their personal data is safe. In a recent interview with ABC, Apple CEO Tim Cook commented on the controversy over surveillance programs and promised he would press congress for more transparency: Read more

Watch the full Tim Cook ABC interview on 30 years of Mac, NSA surveillance (Video)

Yesterday we posted some excerpts from an ABC interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives that officially aired on the network last night. In the interview, Cook is joined by Apple’s Apple Senior VP Craig Federighi and Apple software VP Bud Tribble to talk about the 30th anniversary of Mac, the new made-in-America Mac Pro, iWatch (iRing?), secrecy at Apple and the recent NSA surveillance controversies.

Cook on NSA surveillance programs:

Number one, we need to be significantly more transparent. We need to say what data is being given, how many people it affects, how many accounts are affected, we need to be clear. And we have a gag order on us right now so we can’t say those things… .Much of what has been said isn’t true. There is no backdoor. The government doesn’t have access to our servers. They would have to cart us out in a box for that, and that just will not happen. We feel that strongly about it.

Cook didn’t say much that we didn’t already see in the excerpts, but you can check out the full uncut interview from ABC above.

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Apple goes on the defensive against NSA iPhone spying allegations

Yesterday we reported on a presentation by security researcher Jacob Appelbaum that reportedly showed leaked NSA documents in which the agency claimed to have a “100 percent success rate” at installing spyware on iPhones. Following those accusations, Apple has officially responded in a statement provided to TechCrunch:

Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security.  Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements.  Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers.  We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.

The leaked NSA documents detailed in Appelbaum’s presentation above and first released on German news site Der Spiegel claimed an NSA program called DROPOUTJEEP allowed officials to access almost all data stored on an iPhone, including location, text messages, contact lists, and the device’s microphone and camera. The reports claimed the NSA needed physical access to devices to install the spyware– something it could accomplish by intercepting online shipments– but a version that could be remotely installed was reportedly in development. Apple’s statement today seems to address Appelbaum’s accusation (below) that Apple might have had prior knowledge of the program: Read more

NSA had almost total access to iPhones, including microphone & camera, says security researcher

The NSA could access almost all data stored on an iPhone, including location, text messages and contact lists – including the ability to activate both microphone and camera, according to a presentation by security researcher Jacob Appelbaum at the Chaos Communication Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

Appelbaum showed what he said were leaked NSA documents in which the agency claimed to have a “100 percent success rate” at installing spyware on iPhones. The documents date back to 2008, at which point the NSA needed physical access to an iPhone to install the spyware, but a remotely-installable version was said at the time to be in development.

Even needing physical access to the phone was seemingly not a barrier to the NSA …  Read more

Apple joins tech titans in calling for government spying reform and limitations

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has joined Microsoft, Twitter, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and other giants in the tech industry in calling for a reform of the NSA’s surveillance tactics. Earlier this year it was revealed that the National Security Agency was using information from these companies and more to monitor citizens across the nation without warrants.

The companies allegedly involved in the “PRISM” program denied turning over any user data to the government, but a leaked NSA slidedeck (seen above) seemed to imply the opposite.

The new collaborative campaign, called Reform Government Surveillance, cites five driving principles in its drive to curb excessive government spying:

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President Obama meets with Tim Cook, other execs over government surveillance

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U.S. President Barack Obama met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and other technology company executives today to discuss government surveillance, according to a report from Politico. Earlier this week, according to the report, the President and his staff began holding confidential meetings about surveillance tactics and topics such as the recent NSA-related controversies with company executives and other members of pertinent organizations.

Those invited were mostly senior executives, including Cook, Stephenson and Cerf, as well as representatives of groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and Gigi Sohn, the leader of Public Knowledge, according to three sources familiar with the meeting. Each declined comment for this story.

The report names AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and former Google Vice President Vint Serf as the other technology community members involved in the meetings. Serf recently was appointed by President Obama to the National Science Board, and Serf is also known as a pioneer of the internet…

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Apple responds to accusations of sharing customer data with U.S. government

Apple published an open letter late Sunday night responding to recent allegations that the company had given customers’ personal information, including phone call logs, to the U.S. government as part of the National Security Agency’s secret “PRISM” program.

In the letter, Apple notes that the government had in fact issued several thousand requests for such information, but that Apple’s legal department had carefully examined each request and turned over only the smallest amount of information necessary, sometimes rejecting requests outright.

From December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data. Between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in those requests, which came from federal, state and local authorities and included both criminal investigations and national security matters. The most common form of request comes from police investigating robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide.

Apple has placed a link to the full letter at the bottom of their home page, or you can read the entire thing after the break. Read more