Claiming that iPhones can be hacked by Western intelligence agencies, the Kremlin reportedly told government officials involved in the 2024 Russian election to get rid of their iPhones.
A Kremlin spokesperson then told Reuters that government officials shouldn’t use a smartphone at all, Android or iPhone.
Kremlin: Neither iPhone nor Android are secure
A high-level Russian official gave the order to lower-ranked officials.
“At a Kremlin-organised seminar for officials involved in domestic politics, Sergei Kiriyenko, first deputy head of the presidential administration, told officials to change their phones by April 1, Kommersant said, citing unidentified sources,” reported Reuters.
But anyone who runs out and gets a Samsung Galaxy instead is in for a surprise: Russian officials aren’t supposed to use Androids, either.
“Smartphones should not be used for official business,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, according to Reuters. “Any smartphone has a fairly transparent mechanism, no matter what operating system it has – Android or iOS.”
Everyone knows Android is easily hacked, while iPhones are much more secure. But not secure enough to satisfy the Kremlin, which might be the reason for Kiriyenko’s comment.
Hacking iPhone is a serious challenge
Apple puts tremendous effort into making iPhone safe from hacking — enough to keep average users safe. But government officials from almost any country face the potential for targeting by intelligence agencies.
NSO Group’s Pegasus was designed to circumvent the protections built into iOS, for example. It’s not available to commercial hackers, but governments use it on each other.
Apple added Lockdown Mode to iOS 16 to protect the devices of journalists, politicians and activists who face “highly targeted cyberattacks from private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware,” according to the iPhone-maker.