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iOS backdoors: Hidden items found in 600 million devices, is Apple spying on us?

Many Apple users may be shocked to learn of allegations that there are undocumented components built into the low-level operating system called iOS backdoors that could be used to harvest and deliver personal information to government agencies. As explained by forensic scientist and author Jonathan Zdziarski in a July 21 ZDNet report, Apple has long known about these backdoor services in iOS, and they even support them and update them for unknown reasons.

Attendees gather at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone West center on June 2, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the annual WWDC which is typically a showcase for upcoming updates to Apple hardware and s
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Zdziarski's investigation revealed that several undocumented services (with names like 'lockdownd,' 'pcapd,' 'mobile.file_relay,' and 'house_arrest') run in the background on over 600 million iOS devices. Some may ask the question; why do we really need a built-in packet sniffer ( a piece of software that can intercept and log traffic passing over a digital network or part of a network ) running on over 600 million iOS devices? According to Zdziarski, they make it possible to retrieve user-generated data like text messages, photos, videos, contact lists, audio recordings and call history without having a password. Also the user's GPS coordinates can be stored in a database for as long as 60 day . Zdziarski says these services can be accessed both from a PC or Mac through the USB connection to your device and also wirelessly over WiFi.

Many say these features were installed by Apple at the request of the authorities. However, Zdziarski emphasizes that he does not accuse the iPhone maker of having collaborated with the American intelligence agency, NSA (National Security Agency), but he suspects that the NSA already used these services to collect data on potential targets because these revelations seem to coincide well with NSA tactics.

Zdziarski, who goes by the pseudonym "NerveGas" in the iPhone development community, worked as dev-team member on many of the early iOS jailbreaks and even got paid to break into devices from Apple. He participated in the development of many of the first so-called jailbreak tools and pioneered installation of unauthorized software on the iPhone.

What's your opinion on these so-called iOS backdoor services? Is Apple in cahoots with the NSA? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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