Apple on Friday issued a statement in regards to a report from Google’s Project Zero on iOS security that popped up last week. The message accuses the team of security analysts of “stoking fear among all iPhone users” and reassures customers that “iOS security is unmatched.” We’ve got the full note below.
Last week, Google published a blog about vulnerabilities that Apple fixed for iOS users in February. We’ve heard from customers who were concerned by some of the claims, and we want to make sure all of our customers have the facts.
First, the sophisticated attack was narrowly focused, not a broad-based exploit of iPhones “en masse” as described. The attack affected fewer than a dozen websites that focus on content related to the Uighur community. Regardless of the scale of the attack, we take the safety and security of all users extremely seriously.
Google’s post, issued six months after iOS patches were released, creates the false impression of “mass exploitation” to “monitor the private activities of entire populations in real time,” stoking fear among all iPhone users that their devices had been compromised. This was never the case.
Second, all evidence indicates that these website attacks were only operational for a brief period, roughly two months, not “two years” as Google implies. We fixed the vulnerabilities in question in February — working extremely quickly to resolve the issue just 10 days after we learned about it. When Google approached us, we were already in the process of fixing the exploited bugs.
Security is a never-ending journey and our customers can be confident we are working for them. iOS security is unmatched because we take end-to-end responsibility for the security of our hardware and software. Our product security teams around the world are constantly iterating to introduce new protections and patch vulnerabilities as soon as they’re found. We will never stop our tireless work to keep our users safe.
After Apple posted the above statement, Google forwarded a response to The Verge, standing by its original report. The company said it posts technical research designed to advance the understanding of security vulnerabilities and it will continue to work with Apple and others to keep people safe online.
While it may seem like Google is ‘just trying to help,’ Apple had every right to refute a report that more-or-less claimed its iPhones were unsafe. Smartphones nowadays not only house all of your personal data, but also your credit cards and other financial intel. Stakes for device security have never been higher.