Union Minister for Electronics and Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday came down heavily on the US phone maker Apple after several opposition MPs made allegations of state sponsored attack on their iPhones and said that much of information by the company on the issue seemed vague in nature and the government will investigate to get to the bottom of these notifications, and also asked it to join the probe.
In a series of posts on X, Vaishnaw said, “We are concerned by the statements we have seen in the media from some MPs as well as others about a notification received by them from Apple. The notification received by them as per media reports mentions ‘state-sponsored attacks’ on their devices.”
His remarks came after Apple in a statement clarified that “its possible that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms”.
“However much of the information by Apple on this issue seems vague and non-specific in nature. Apple states these notifications may be based on information which is ‘incomplete or imperfect’. It also states that some Apple threat notifications maybe false alarms or some attacks are not detected,” the Minister said reacting to the allegations by the several opposition MPs, including Congress K.C. Venugopal, Shashi Tharoor, Trinamool Congress’ Mahua Moitra, Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi.
The Minister said that Apple has also claimed that Apple IDs are securely encrypted on devices, making it extremely difficult to access or identify them without the user's explicit permission. “This encryption safeguards the user's Apple ID and ensures that it remains private and protected,” he said.
“The Government of Bharat takes its role of protecting the privacy and security of all citizens very seriously and will investigate to get to the bottom of these notifications,” he said
Vaishnaw said, “In light of such information and widespread speculation, we have also asked Apple to join the investigation with real, accurate information on the alleged state sponsored attacks.”
His remarks came soon after Apple, the iPhone maker in a statement clarified that "it does not attribute the threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker”.
The iPhone maker in a statement said that "state-sponsored attackers are very well-funded and sophisticated, and their attacks evolve over time”.
“Detecting such attacks relies on threat intelligence signals that are often imperfect and incomplete. It’s possible that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms, or that some attacks are not detected,” it said.
“We are unable to provide information about what causes us to issue threat notifications, as that may help state-sponsored attackers adapt their behavior to evade detection in the future,” it added.
It further said that Apple has sent ‘Threat Notifications’ to individuals whose accounts are in nearly 150 countries.
The response from the US-based Apple came hours after several Opposition MPs and leaders claimed to have received a notification from Apple stating that their devices could be targeted by ‘state-sponsored attackers’.
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi while addressing a press conference on Tuesday slammed the Central government saying that many of his office members, party leaders, Opposition leaders have received alerts on alleged attempts to hack their Apple devices. He also said that this bid to hack the phones of political leaders was the “act of criminals and thieves and not of an honest person, but we are not scared”.