The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) on Thursday wildly accused Apple of helping U.S. espionage agencies hack thousands of iPhones using sophisticated surveillance software to spy on its citizens and government.
The FSB intelligence service claimed it had uncovered a U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) plot that used previously unknown malware and specially made iPhone backdoor vulnerabilities created for the U.S. by Apple.
“In the course of ensuring the security of the Russian telecommunications infrastructure, anomalies were identified that are specific only to users of Apple mobile phones and are caused by the operation of previously unknown malicious software that uses software vulnerabilities provided by the manufacturer,” the FSB said in a statement to Sputnik International, a Russian state-owned news outlet, adding that “several thousand phones were used.”
The FSB accused Apple of providing the NSA a wide range of opportunities to monitor individuals of interest to the White House and their partners in anti-Russian activities, including Russian citizens.
Further, the alleged “intelligence action” targeted the iPhones belonging to Russian citizens, as well as foreign diplomats based in Russia, and the former Soviet Union, including those from NATO members, Israel, Syria, and China.
“Foreign numbers and subscribers using SIM cards registered with diplomatic missions and embassies in Russia” were affected, reads the statement to Sputnik International.
The FSB states that its investigation was aided by the Federal Security Service of Russia, a federal executive body responsible for protecting the country’s leaders.
“The hidden data collection was carried out through software vulnerabilities in U.S.-made mobile phones,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement while supporting the actions. “The U.S. intelligence services have been using I.T. corporations for decades in order to collect large-scale data of Internet users without their knowledge.”
While FSB has wildly accused Apple of cooperating with NSA in its alleged spy campaign that compromised thousands of iPhones, it has failed to provide evidence supporting its claims.
In a statement, Apple firmly denied the allegation of helping the NSA, saying: “We have never worked with any government to insert a backdoor into any Apple product and never will.”