How the CIA Might Target Apple's XCode
The Intercept recently posted a story on the CIA’s attempts to hack the iOS operating system. Most interesting was the speculation that it hacked XCode, which would mean that any apps developed using that tool would be compromised.
The security researchers also claimed they had created a modified version of Apple’s proprietary software development tool, Xcode, which could sneak surveillance backdoors into any apps or programs created using the tool. Xcode, which is distributed by Apple to hundreds of thousands of developers, is used to create apps that are sold through Apple’s App Store.
The modified version of Xcode, the researchers claimed, could enable spies to steal passwords and grab messages on infected devices. Researchers also claimed the modified Xcode could “force all iOS applications to send embedded data to a listening post.” It remains unclear how intelligence agencies would get developers to use the poisoned version of Xcode.
Researchers also claimed they had successfully modified the OS X updater, a program used to deliver updates to laptop and desktop computers, to install a “keylogger.”
It’s a classic application of Ken Thompson’s classic 1984 paper, “Reflections on Trusting Trust,” and a very nasty attack. Dan Wallach speculates on how this might work.
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