Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claims to have discovered an elaborate American espionage operation that compromised thousands of iPhones using sophisticated surveillance software. Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab confirmed that several of its employees’ devices were compromised during the operation.
The FSB alleged that the espionage campaign involved infecting Apple devices, including those belonging to domestic Russian subscribers, foreign diplomats in Russia, and the former Soviet Union. The FSB implied a “close cooperation” between Apple and the National Security Agency (NSA), although no evidence was provided. Apple vehemently denied the allegation, stating that it had never worked with any government to insert backdoors into its products. The NSA declined to comment on the matter.
Kaspersky Lab, whose employees were targeted, described the cyberattack as highly complex and targeted towards top and middle-management personnel. While the FSB claimed American involvement, Kaspersky Lab refrained from attributing blame.
The FSB stated that diplomats from Israel, Syria, China, and NATO member countries were compromised in the espionage campaign. The United States, China, and Russia are considered the top cyber powers, according to Harvard University’s Belfer Center Cyber 2022 Power Index.
Russia’s foreign ministry claimed that hidden data collection occurred through software vulnerabilities in U.S.-made mobile phones, alleging long-standing U.S. intelligence agency practices of collecting data without user knowledge. The Russian government, known for its advanced domestic surveillance structure, has expressed concerns about the security of U.S. technology.