Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has accused Apple of working closely with US intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA). The FSB alleges that Apple is involved in an intelligence operation that has compromised the mobile phones of Russians and diplomats from multiple countries. The FSB named Israel, Syria, China, and NATO as some of the countries affected. However, Apple has denied the accusations and clarified that it has never worked with any government to insert a backdoor into its products.
While the NSA has not responded to the allegations, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky has disclosed that dozens of its senior employees were targeted in a “highly complex and specialized targeted cyberattack.” The attack was executed through an invisible iMessage containing a malicious attachment that exploited a vulnerability in the iOS operating system.
Kaspersky stated that it does not believe that it was the primary target of the cyber-espionage attack, and it is not linked to any one country or attacker. The allegations have arisen at a time when Russia and the US are experiencing difficult relations due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. The US Department of Justice recently revealed that it had thwarted the FSB’s 20-year malware campaign targeting more than 50 countries.
In March, local media reports suggested that the Kremlin had told officials involved in organizing the 2024 Russian presidential elections not to use iPhones out of concern that they could be vulnerable to intrusion by Western spy agencies. The allegations of cyber-espionage highlight the increased risks faced by companies and individuals as cyber-attacks become more sophisticated and frequent.