Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has accused an unnamed US intelligence agency of hacking thousands of iPhones, including those belonging to Russian citizens and individuals linked to diplomatic missions in Russia. The FSB alleges that Apple Inc., the iPhone manufacturer, collaborates closely with US intelligence, particularly the National Security Agency (NSA). The attacks reportedly targeted SIM cards registered to diplomats from NATO countries, Israel, and China.
Apple, while not commenting on the alleged Russian iPhone breaches, denied assisting any government in hacking iPhones and stated it “never will.” The NSA declined to comment, and representatives for the Chinese and Israeli embassies in Washington did not immediately respond. Apple has stopped selling products in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, but iPhones remain accessible through parallel import schemes.
Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, based in Moscow, reported that iPhones belonging to several of its employees were hacked in an “extremely complex, professional targeted cyberattack.” The hack, which remained undetected for years, was discovered at the start of the year. Kaspersky did not identify the perpetrator but indicated that the attacks are linked to those mentioned by the FSB.
The allegations come amid tense US-Russia relations due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. The US government banned Kaspersky software from federal systems in 2017 over espionage concerns. Cybersecurity experts believe the hackers used advanced techniques to breach iPhones, but more information is needed for definitive conclusions. The hackers reportedly used a “zero-click” attack, sending a malicious iMessage attachment that didn’t require user interaction to infect the device.