(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Alistair Barr, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple denied working with the National Security Agency on a backdoor way to hack into iPhones after a German newspaper revealed a program that targets the popular mobile device.
Once installed on iPhones, the software, known as DROPOUTJEEP, can access a lot of information including files, text messages, contact lists, and location data, while also controlling the device's camera and microphone, according to documents leaked by the paper Der Spiegel.
"Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone," company spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said. "Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products."
This is the latest in a series of revelations about the NSA's online spying activities that has damaged Silicon Valley's reputation as an independent center for innovation.
"I believe that the people who work at the NSA are patriots," venture capitalist Michael Dearing wrote in a column on tech website All Things D this week. "My concern is more personal and local: The NSA's version of patriotism is corroding Silicon Valley. Integrity of our products, creative freedom of talented people, and trust with our users are the casualties."
Tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, are investing in more security, while increasing legal and government lobbying efforts, to thwart the NSA.
"We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who's behind them," Apple's Huguet said on Tuesday.
DROPOUTJEEP was initially supposed to be installed via "close access methods," according to one of the NSA documents, from 2008, that was leaked by Der Spiegel. That suggests iPhones had to be physically close to get the the snooping software on the devices.
However, the same document said "remote installation capability" would be pursued in the future.