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Apple's iOS has a reputation for being a more secure operating system than Google's Android, and as the Washington Post reports, it deserves it. Earlier this week reports from surveillance firm Gamma Group leaked that discussed the capabilities of its FinSpy software, and the documents listed an crucial caveat — the software won't work on iPhones unless the phone is jailbroken.
FinSpy Mobile is marketed to law enforcement and government intelligence agencies as a way to monitor and (in come cases) gain full access to a particular user's smartphone. Among the listed specialties are "Communication: Calls, SMS, MMS and more; Stored Data: Address Book from Phone and SIM; Surveillance Devices: Make silent Calls to remotely listen to the Microphone; and Location: Trace device and monitor locations."
As the chart above shows, agencies can use the service to spy on phones with running Android, earlier versions of BlackBerry OS, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. The latest BlackBerry model currently isn't supported, and Windows Phone isn't supported "yet." But only the iPhone has a disclaimer on the platform listing itself: "Untethered jailbreak required."
This is wonderful news for us, the Post article notes, but it also expressed wonder that Google's Android has emerged as the dominant operating system in this era of worries about government snooping. Android's chief appeal, it states, lies in the comparative affordability of the supported phones. "But, it's increasingly clear, they are more vulnerable to the Gammas of the world," the article says, "and from the police and intelligence services that use their tools."
The article cautions that Apple users aren't completely safe — someone with FinSpy could hack into the computer you use to back up your iDevice (yes, even a Mac) and get the information from there.
You can read the full document over at Wikileaks.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.