For years, security experts and journalists used iPhones because of their reputation for being the most secure and private phones but that’s not the case in Russia. Is Apple involved in spying on Russian officials? That’s what the Kremlin administration fears.
According to a report on Gizmodo, thousands of top Russian officials and state employees have been banned from using iPhones and other Apple products for government work and email. Russia is afraid that the US government and Apple could be using iPhones as spying tools for Western intelligence agencies.
Just last month, Russian intelligence officers claimed that the US National Security Agency was hacking into Russian-owned iPhones with the help of Apple.
Despite these security concerns, it’s likely that Russian officials won’t stop using iPhones, at least for personal purposes.
“The FSB has long been concerned about the use of iPhones for professional contacts, but the presidential administration and other officials opposed [restrictions] simply because they liked iPhones,” Russian security and intelligence services expert Andrey Soldatov told the Financial Times.
The ban, which took effect on Monday, July 17, affects a variety of Apple products including iPhones, iPads, and laptops but it doesn’t end there – any US-made smartphones are a concern for espionage. Kremlin officials advised the staff working on Vladimir Putin’s 2024 presidential re-election campaign against using most US-developed smartphones for fear of the US government hijacking them to spy on emails.
The ban is now focused mainly on phone usage for work activities, with Russian officials expected to switch to smartphones that run the Russian OS Aurora.
So far, Apple has not issued any statement regarding this but their track record is worth pointing out. The company was engaged in a lengthy legal battle with US authorities for not providing NSA with a backdoor to iPhones and defending their users’ privacy. When it comes to Russian iPhone users? So far, it’s unclear.