Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Government Initiates iPhone ‘Hack’ probe, Invites Apple to Collaborate in Privacy Protection Efforts

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Union Minister for Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology, Ashwini Viashnaw, held a press conference on Tuesday in response to the opposition’s claims of government “snooping” due to an alert on iPhone devices regarding potential state-sponsored attacks. Addressing the matter, the minister emphasized that the government takes the issue seriously and has initiated an investigation to uncover the facts.

Viashnaw stated, “The government is genuinely concerned about the situation. We have already launched an inquiry, and we are committed to uncovering the truth. I would like to mention that there are individuals within the country who habitually criticize the government on every matter. Their primary concern is not the nation’s progress.”

Minister for Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, noted that Apple had issued a similar advisory in 150 countries. Several parliamentarians, including Mahua Moitra, Shashi Tharoor, and Asaduddin Owaisi, shared screenshots of the alert on social media platforms.

In response, Minister Vaishnaw posted a series of messages on a social media platform, expressing concerns about the vague and non-specific nature of the information provided by Apple in the alerts. He mentioned that the government had invited Apple to participate in the investigation and provide accurate information regarding the alleged state-sponsored attacks. The minister highlighted Apple’s disclaimer that these notifications may be based on incomplete or imperfect information and that some could be false alarms or undetected attacks.

Vaishnaw stated, “We are concerned about the statements made by some Members of Parliament and others in the media regarding notifications they received from Apple. The notifications, as per media reports, reference ‘state-sponsored attacks’ on their devices. However, much of the information provided by Apple on this issue appears to be vague and non-specific in nature.”

The Union Minister further mentioned that Apple has asserted that Apple IDs are securely encrypted on devices, which renders them highly resistant to unauthorized access or identification without the user’s explicit consent. This robust encryption serves to safeguard the user’s Apple ID, ensuring its privacy and security.

He emphasized that the Government of India places a significant emphasis on safeguarding the privacy and security of all its citizens and is committed to conducting a thorough investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding these notifications.

“In light of the information and the widespread speculation surrounding this issue, we have formally requested Apple’s participation in our investigation to provide accurate, concrete information regarding the alleged state-sponsored attacks,” he added.

Following the revelation, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held a press conference where he suggested that the government’s actions were prompted by the opposition’s scrutiny of Gautam Adani. He asserted that Adani is at the helm of the government’s priorities, followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Apple has responded to the controversy, explaining that they cannot attribute the threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker. They elaborated that state-sponsored attackers are well-funded and sophisticated, with their attack methods evolving over time. Detecting such attacks relies on imperfect and incomplete threat intelligence signals. Apple also mentioned that some threat notifications could be false alarms, and certain attacks may go undetected. Consequently, they cannot divulge the precise reasons for issuing threat notifications, as doing so might enable state-sponsored attackers to adapt their strategies to avoid future detection

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