Russia asks Apple for source code to alleviate espionage concerns

By , Jul 30, 2014

iOS 7 teaser (iPhone 5s ad 003)

Russia’s Ministry of Communications and Mass Media has suggested that Apple, along with German tech giant SAP, open the source code for its software to ensure that it’s not enabling US intelligence agencies to spy on the country.

The request comes just a week after a security researcher accused Apple of building surveillance backdoors into iOS, and as the United States and Europe expand their sanctions on Moscow over Russia’s involvement in Ukraine affairs…

Reuters has comments from Russia’s Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov:

“Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 and U.S. intelligence services’ public statements about the strengthening of surveillance of Russia in 2014 have raised a serious question of trust in foreign software and hardware,” Nikiforov said in the statement released late on Tuesday.

“Obviously, companies which disclose the source code of their programmes are not hiding anything, but those who do not intend to establish cooperation with Russia on this issue may have undeclared capabilities in their products,” Nikiforov said.

Nikiforov recently met with Peter Engrob Nielsen, Apple’s Russian GM, but there’s no word on how it went. It seems doubtful that Apple would handover the blueprints for its software, though Russia says Microsoft’s done it for years.

Since being named in Edward Snowden’s PRISM leak last summer, Apple has had to deal with growing privacy concerns from both users and governments. China recently called iOS 7′s location tracking feature a national security issue.

In a response to last week’s backdoor report, Apple said it’s “never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor” in any of its products or services. It also outlined previously unknown diagnostic capabilities.

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • Anmol Malhotra

    It’s way past time for companies to start telling Russia to go f*ck itself. Seriously!

    • Ashish Maheshwari

      dude its off topic but pls tell me in which apple store in delhi did u get your lightning cable replaced?

      • Anmol Malhotra

        NSP , Pitampura.

      • Ashish Maheshwari

        thanks a lot buddy. i live in saraswati vihar and that NSP store is closest to my home :p
        did they ask for bill? because i had got mine from london and i dont have a bill and warranty’s also expired.

      • Anmol Malhotra

        Anytime bro. :)
        Nope they didnt asked but they checked on their computer to make sure that cable was brought from India only and belongs to my iPhone 4s.
        Well, you are out of luck. But you can try. You live soo close to service center , you should at least try once. You never know , life is full of surprises. :D

    • Alex Ruski

      Why?! You would do the same thing if you where a country that is targeted by the phobia americans sells!

      • Antzboogie

        The control that Russia has over its own people is not called freedom I rather be in America.

    • Antzboogie

      ***k Russia they always trying to have complete control over people not me!!

      • Alex Ruski

        no…. they don’t!

  • neez

    Yes, sure… They only want to see if there is a backdoor. Nothing more… In fact, why don’t Apple show the blueprints to the entire world, so everyone can find a way to hack the iPhone?!

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      The Russian government isn’t the entire world you know…

      • neez

        I think you didn’t understand what I said. I was being sarcastic. No one does anything for nothing in change. You think that the Russian government, or any other government for that matter including USA (if they didn’t have already) wouldn’t find a way to exploit the source code of the iOS or any other software if they had the blueprints? Hell they try to exploit these softwares even without a blueprint, imagine what they could do whit one…

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Right, it would potentially be shifting some power from US to Russia instead of being just for checking for backdoors. The worst case would be Russia having access to US citizen iPhones, just as US has access to Russian citizen iPhones.

        I’m more in support of power being spread amongst nations (which is what you’re implying) than have one control all the other.

      • neez

        I’m right there with you my friend, but as a user in another country other than those two, with a last name that would rise attention from some governments, I feel that my privacy is being threatened. Now I have to be careful for what I say or do in private so I can walk and travel around freely… My point is that Apple and other international company’s should never share it’s users information willingly to anyone, even the US. When any government make a request like this, it should be answered with a big NOPE! Well, in another dimension maybe…

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Understood. However, this isn’t requesting for User data (in which case I would agree the answer should be No), instead it’s requesting for the OS (Operating System) source code. Think of it as this; they’re requesting the data that’s on a brand-new iDevice, which hasn’t been linked to anyone’s account.

      • neez

        Okay. Think of it like this: You have your (real, not virtual) money in a bank, but you’re no quite sure it is secure enough. So you ask the bank to show you how they protect your money, where it is stored, who is responsible for transferring it, who is responsible to store it, who has the keys to the safe, the path where it’s crarried when being transfered, the type of truck used to transfer it, when and where they make stops, the blueprints of the buildings it’s stored, where they store the keys to your safety box, etc., etc., etc. With information like that, one could explore the weak points of the security if they want, and find a way to break into the bank and using the same information, open a third party safaty deposit box or grab the money that isn’t theirs, even if their deposit box have no money at all. It’s the same principle.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Right, I see what you’re talking about. In terms of this situation; it’ll be the Russian government learning how to remotely access Apple’s servers (like iOS devices do), which contains not just Russian citizen data, but many other country’s citizens’ data.

        Based on recent news, that’s exactly what the US is already doing. So, it’ll just be spreading the US’s power to another country…which I support.

      • neez

        Yep!

        We agreed…

      • @dongiuj

        You make so much more sense

      • Antzboogie

        Thats way to much power though. Im sure the power that is being abused is limited thanks to Snowden (which is a hero in my eyes). We might be ok everything is changing in some way. I know one thing is for sure you cant compare America to Russia. With all the knowledge America knows and we dont even try to control our own people as much as Russia does.

      • Kr00

        Recent news? Do you have actual proof of this happening, or what?

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Have you been living under a rock, or what (http://bit ly/1o7rmAQ)?

      • Kr00

        FYI, the US government don’t have the source code for OS X or iOS. Whats your point again?

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        They don’t need the code when they’ve got their backdoors implemented. Point is, the worst case would be Russia finding those backdoors and learning how to exploit them like the NSA already does.

  • CS

    Russia, if you didn’t have anything to hide you wouldn’t need to care about backdoors. Obviously Russia has everything to hide. They should just go back to the good ole flip phone. That’s what Jason Bourne used and he was a badass!!!!! Lol

    • Alex Ruski

      Why?! You would do the same thing if you where a country that is targeted by the phobia/spying of a manipulating country like USA!

      • CS

        My point is Apple and virtually every other major company like it has backdoors. Whether apple specifically told them or not, EVERYTHING IS HACKABLE! You can’t escape the NSA unless you just completely isolate yourself from anything that runs and connects to internet/ gps satellites/ etc

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      If Apple’s got nothing to hide, they wouldn’t hesitate to show the source code of iOS.

      • nazcorp

        I disagree. Giving open access to the source code to the public is more about accessibility to it’s features and code for others to copy or manipulate. It’s not about that iOS doesn’t have anything to hide: it’s iOS itself is sought after to get all of the how’s and what’s to improve someone else’s products which presumably having the source code would allow for. Unless every single thing in iOS is copyrighted and patented, opening the source code up can lead to others using it’s features and same implementations in another products.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Giving open access to the source code to the public is more about accessibility to it’s features and code for others to copy or manipulate

        Just like Android? Besides, this is the Russian government checking for backdoors, not creating some competitor. There’s already Android if their intention is for creating a competitor.

      • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

        Suppose they find a backdoor are we to trust that they’ll do the right thing? Apple needs to give the source code to everybody or nobody you can’t pick and choose who does and does not get to see the source code since it code lead to unforeseen circumstances…

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Suppose they find a backdoor are we to trust that they’ll do the right thing?

        I trust them as much as I trust the NSA to do the right thing; they’re both humans. If they do happen to find a backdoor, as I stated below, the worst case would be Russia having access to US citizen iPhones, just as US has access to Russian citizen iPhones.

        Again, I’m more in support of power being spread amongst nations than have one control all the other.

      • Kr00

        Then you are a mindless fool if you trust the Russians. A billionaire president, moving guerrilla troops into a sovereign country, to steal their oil and gas assets, who is happy to shoot down passenger planes, is not someone anyone can trust. You don’t think they won’t sell the backdoor exploits to someone like Kaspersky, who’ll end up writing viruses for, then sell anti virus software? Yeah, then maybe you are a mindless fool. Russia don’t have a software industry of any note, but they’d sure love to start one.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        And you’re such an asinine hypocrite. Do you expect me to trust the same US that went as far as planning a terrorist attack on itself for the sake of power (http://bit ly/1oi0Q9m), killing loads of national and international citizens in the process, and lying through it’s teeth as they blame it all on Muslim extremists? Not to talk about the ongoing snooping of non-US citizen data for “security reasons”…

      • @dongiuj

        Are we to trust apple/America?

      • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

        I’d never trust the United States of America after Snowdens revelations but Apple? While we can speculate that Apple has all sorts of backdoors in their software I’d say that since this hasn’t been proven then yes we should trust them, trust them at least until there’s a definitive reason not to…

      • Alex Ruski

        I would trust a lot more in Apple than America!

      • DogeCoin

        Android as we know it is not completly open source (a lot of stuff google puts in is not open source) the most notable think android runs that is open source is the Linux kernel, but IOS kernel is also open source (Darwin) if Russia had ios source code they could in theory run ios on any type of hardware.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        So, preventing someone from running iOS on some third-party hardware is what you’re saying is more important than one’s privacy? Sorry, but I disagree with that…to each their own.

      • DogeCoin

        No I’m saying is that apple sells iPhones with ios on them, if anybody can put ios on any hardware that’s less of a reason for people to buy iPhones if then can just put ios on their prexsistant nexus/whatever. It just makes sence that apples doesn’t want that to happen.

      • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

        Just an FYI but Winocm already kind of has iOS running on third party hardware…

      • DogeCoin

        The kernel, not ios, the kernel is easy because it is open source

      • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

        Hence the “kind of”. It has the potential to run iOS though if all of the components can be ported (not an easy task).

      • DogeCoin

        “Kinda of” it as IOS as it is MacOSX , it is closer to being puredarwin or opendarwin

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Right. So, what you’re saying is that the Russian government would then build it’s own Smatphone business with iOS on it’s Smartphones? That’s just silly. No government on Earth has bothered to take Android and create it’s own division of Smartphones, yet you think they’ll take Apple’s iOS to do that? Sorry, but Apple isn’t that special…

        Besides, if that is actually what happens, it can’t be any worse than losing access to the entire Russian market.

      • DogeCoin

        How do you know no government has taken Android? It’s source code is avalible. Russia could easily take the source code and sell it to the NSA, they could do what ever with it, create Russian IOS for Russian iPhones. Perhaps they’ll use it to create exploits. Why is it apple, why not make Microsoft give up their source code of windows? And then Russia can make Russian windows. Apple gets and has the power because it’s their source code, if you want something with a better power balance use something licensed under GPLv3

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        How do you know no government has taken Android? It’s source code is avalible

        ‘Cause there isn’t any phones currently on sale in the market by a Government owned company. If they are on sale, they aren’t making any tech headlines; ie barely any interest in them.

        Russia could easily take the source code and sell it to the NSA, they could do what ever with it, create Russian IOS for Russian iPhones. Perhaps they’ll use it to create exploits.

        Dude, you clearly haven’t been keeping up with the news. All this stuff you’re saying is already being done by the NSA; the NSA doesn’t need Russia to accomplish what it is already doing. The worst case would be Russia having access to US citizen iPhones, just as US has access to Russian citizen iPhones.

        Why is it apple, why not make Microsoft give up their source code of windows? And then Russia can make Russian windows.

        Dude, google is your friend (http://bit ly/1rS07NQ). For short, it’s already been done with Microsoft in 2010 and iDB didn’t blog about it (’cause it’s not Apple related). The Russian government just checked Windows for a backdoor and didn’t have any intention to create a competitor using their code.

        Apple gets and has the power because it’s their source code

        K…o_0

      • Kr00

        “Dude”, try adult speak for a second, google are not your friend. They track more individuals than any company on the planet. They make 80% of their revenue from pushing advertising. You’re a fool if you think they’re your friend.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Way the go playing the asinine bait-switch game numbskull. Unless English isn’t your first language, you must be daft to not realise I was implying he should google it. Try sticking to the topic if you’re actually the adult you’re trying to paint yourself out to be.

      • DogeCoin

        And why would a source code inspection from 2010 be relevant? Unless Russia has the source code for every patch and update it’s pointless, Russia got the source code, but did they also get a hash? Russia didn’t get to keep its audits so it’s not very useful. If Russia wants the source code then they should not be using windows or MacOSX, it’s simple as that.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Point is, you were crying for Apple as-if it’s only them who have to go through that process, which is just plain silly. If you’re actually interested in knowing more about the Microsoft to Russia relationship, take the f’n time to google it an stop wasting my time!

      • Kr00

        I’m not sure if your an Apple hater or a communist lover? Hard to tell.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Right, hard for you to tell when someone is talking reality ’cause you’re so out of touch with reality…why am I not surprised.

      • Kr00

        And what is it you know about Apples privacy breaches again?

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        It’s just a google away you incompetent numbskull (http://bit ly/1o7rmAQ).

      • Sean Clark

        If you give the source code to Russia, you may as well publicly release the source code. They barely keep their own secrets.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        And you know this how? Sounds more like impotent hatred…

      • Kr00

        And you know this, how?

        Android is flawed and awash with malware. Not a great example of security.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        It’s called deductive reasoning, wouldn’t expect a impotent hater like you to know what that is…

      • Kr00

        MS have been sharing code with Russia for over a decade. Viruses abound the Windows OS. Kaspersky is the biggest anti virus software manufacturer on the planet. Kaspersky is a Russian company managed by ex KGB people. Yeah, lets give the Russians what they want, it won’t be detrimental to us in any way. *Facepalm*

        Heres a clue. If viruses vanished tomorrow, wouldn’t you be worried your business model would fail? Most of the virus attacks, DDOS attacks and malware attacks, come out of Russia. Trust no one, least all the Russian demanding something.

        This story relates to Russia demanding the Mac OS X code.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Right, the good old delusion of Mac OS X being virus proof. Thought that was done for good back in 2012 with the Flashback Trojan (http://zd net/1psCsQH)…guess the 600,000 Macs infected wasn’t enough for your to get your head out of your behind…the main reason there’s little to no malware for Mac OS X is simply ’cause there’s no point taking the time for create an exploit for ~7% of the computer market (been hovering around that for the past 7 years, netmarketshare com) when with 1 exploit, you can hit 91% of the computer market.

      • DogeCoin

        MacOSX has a *nix kernel and has a BSD base which is why it’s so secure. If you find a low level enough exploit in MacOSX it could be worth more than a windows exploit. ( being ~98% of all server are *nix based)

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        So secure that it kept falling first at Pwn2Own contests until recently…that’s security by obscurity at it’s finest (http://bit ly/UP0j1T), but keep up the security delusion.

      • DogeCoin

        Would you look at that, point proven, like the article pointed out, MacOSX is more secure than windows. I wonder why? (FreeBSD, BSD, Apache, SSH, BASH, pretty much all the stuff windows does not have due to being a NT kernel instead if a * NIX kernel)

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Haha, you clearly didn’t read the entire article. Way the go make yet another ignoramus move…

      • xSeriouSx

        Not sure what he read either, ’cause it clearly states, and I quote:

        They asserted claims that took different means to an end, but concluded on relatively the same thing: Windows (Vista, 7) was finally a more secure platform than OS X. While Microsoft spent the better part of the last decade getting extremely serious about security in Windows, Apple considered security as an almost afterthought. A dirty word inside Cupertino, some could say.

        Perhaps he ignoramusly clicked one of those social engineering ads and was directed to a different article…or simply has a dingbat way of interpreting English…wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case.

      • DogeCoin

        http://threatpost com/of-truetype-font-vulnerabilities-and-the-windows-kernel Having to patch your system because your rendering of fonts in kernel space has lead to an exploit that gains root access is not secure. I will read more than one article, and thus i will not base my answer off of one source. But regardless, the source listed numbers for MacOSX maleware that was far less then windows, and the fact that this is third party software, and MacOSX has a package manger (something many systems have had for a while, but seems to be a recent development for windows) , means most people do not need to download files from untrusted sources, which is most detrimental to the top viruses, which are Trojans. Untrusted 3rd party software won’t even run if you don’t enable it to. But even on a very low level, Darwin is more secure kernel with proper user accounts. (a glorious feature of *nix).

      • xSeriouSx

        Having to patch your system ’cause system apps, and third party apps, crash (http://bit ly/1AJP1gB) when rendering a small line of text isn’t secure either. What’s your point?

        It’s been stated dozens of times, but you and other Mactards are to deaf to hear it; the ratio of malware for Mac OS X to Windows directly proportional to the ratio of the market-share of Mac OS X to Windows. When Mac OS X’s world-wide market-share stops hovering around a mere 7%, expect to see the amount of malware grow proportionally.

        Regardless of which one you want to call more secure, none of them will ever eliminate the PEBCAK problem. Learn to be self-aware of your online security and you’re safe using ANY internet connected computer.

  • ПАТРИОТ ХУЕПЛЕТ

    РОССИЯ НЕПОПЕДИМА, СОСИТЕ ХУЙ

    • Anmol Malhotra

      …..

    • @dongiuj

      That’s what she said?…..

  • pauleebe

    How about you take the MH17 investigations more seriously first …

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      Dude, you’re talking about a population of over 140 million individuals. You think they don’t have enough man power to focus on both simultaneously? Or have you never heard of true multitasking?

      • Alex Ruski

        it’s just a hater with no cause! what he said doesn’t make any sense…. or you think in a government there is only one person taking care of everything ¬¬

      • pauleebe

        It was satirical, because investigators weren’t being allowed to examine a crash site of almost 300 victims, but have the nerve to ask Apple for iOS source code.

        Just really poor timing, especially since Apple never will hand over the source code, and doesn’t have to. Russia and the iPhone have had a rocky relationship, so this is nothing new.

  • Alberto Espinal

    This is a big problem for Apple, because if Apple denies it then Russia its going to stop selling Apple products there!!

    • hush

      not a big deal! Russian Apple consumers would still get iPhones from outside Russia..
      Maybe then Putin will put in jail every iPhone owner for betraying the nation lol

  • Matheus Lisboa

    Hahaha that’s hilarious ahah Apple will give it to them since they asked so gently

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    Good to see someone taking the investigation directly to the potential spy sources instead of the US as a whole. Let’s see how this unfolds….

    • hush

      Disqus should really implement an Ignore feature. Your “smart” ass is all over the comment section, for god’s sake go lick Putin’s ass and stop using internet.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        They really should implement a smart comment filter, blocking ignoramus haters like you and keeping only objective comments alive…get back to sticking your head where the sun doesn’t shine, ’cause that’s what you seem to be the master of.

      • hush

        okay :D

      • hush

        uhm okay, your comments wouldn’t have made it here

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Yours even less likely…

  • Michael Jay Delaney

    No matter what “deal” or “contract” is made between Apple and “the Russian government,” regardless of any Apple/US alliances, it’s going to end up being used for something malicious in the future. Apple was already on track to becoming the technological superpower of the world (i.e. fully integrated into every piece of technology that is to exist) and the deal with IBM has solidified it’s path (in my mind). Russian/American scapegoating will continue until one party is willing to deface the technology that had made our lives better. It will have massive repercussions on the world and will ultimately cause a shift of governments. In which direction remains the question.

  • http://www.liam-merlyn.co.uk/ ConduciveMammal

    So what would happen when Apple decline to provide them the source code? Would Russia simply ban the sale of the the devices?

  • xSeriouSx

    *nix lower the chance of a lot of PEBCAK error,

    In what way exactly? Requiring passcode to install software or make a system change? Requiring admin rights to install software? Alerting you when some suspicious system change is about to be made? Welcome to 2007. Those have all be around since the Vista era.

    Also how deaf have you been to the news lately? Haven’t you been coming across the news of all these servers getting hacked? Want to tell me those weren’t Unix systems?

    Besides, if you have any brains to reason, you’d realise that servers are run by Tech Savvy individuals, who are more likely to take precautions in securing their system properly. Whereas consumer PCs are mostly run by illiterates, who are more likely to be careless. So, creating malware to target ~2% of computers, most with security conscious users, is less probable to hit a gold mine vs. creating malware to target ~91% of computers, most security unconscious users.

    Apple isn’t evil, their OS is just stupidly restrictive and made idiot proof for mindless zombie users.

  • DogeCoin

    you see, with a kernel updates, on the more popular *nix systems (one being linux) is that i can freely update and downgrade my kernel and i know exactly whats in my kernel, i just have to look. I don’t have to have a separate company tell me “it’s time to update your kernel”. I can load my whole OS to ram, meaning if anything modifies outside of my home directory, none of it will be saved. Windows has a historically flawed user accounts. they switched their kernel from monouser to multiuser. Thus they had to do a lot of hack work just to make sure programs didn’t break when every body updated. chroot jail isn’t just limited directory access (which windows does very poorly in), its also sandboxing. Also chroot jails have exsisted before microsoft DOS. All these things have existed before XP implemented them. Windows can get infected by visiting a website. In *nix you gotta download a Trojan and go “yes, you are allowed root access, even thought if you where a legitimate program you wouldn’t need it”