Feeds

UK.gov BANS iPads from Cabinet over foreign eavesdropper fears

Ministers told to leave mobes and slabs in lead-lined boxes

Boost IT visibility and business value

iPads and mobile devices have been banned from Cabinet meetings over concerns the mobile devices could be compromised by foreign governments trying to spy on top level government meetings, the Mail on Sunday reports.

Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, used iPads in a presentation last week about how the Government Digital Service might save the UK £2bn a year.

But after the presentation the devices were removed by Downing Street security staff to preclude the possibility that more sensitive Cabinet discussions might become the target of eavesdropping.

Smartphone malware is capable of surreptitiously turning on the microphone of infected devices. The resulting audio might be uploaded to a server for later analysis by a hostile actor, all without the victim being aware that anything was amiss.

Security services fear that China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan might have developed the ability to turn mobiles into microphones using malware, the MoS reports.

The paper adds that ministers in "sensitive government departments" were recently issued with soundproof lead-lined boxes to leave their mobiles in during meetings. The tactic mimics the tradecraft trick practised by Edward Snowden when he met reporters in Hong Kong and insisted they placed their phones in fridges before any meeting.

The heightened security concerns about minister's mobile and fondleslabs is the unsurprising result of reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal mobile had been bugged by the NSA for years until the operation was exposed last month.

Security experts reacted to the reports by noting that such surveillance, while arguably impolite among friends, ought to be expected. Ministers need to be provided with secure communication devices and the Merkel spying affair has at the very least left the German Federal Intelligence Service, with some awkward questions to answer.

William Hague, the British foreign secretary, admitted his phone has been modified by GCHQ to prevent bugging. “I think my phone has been modified by GCHQ enough that it'd [bugging] be difficult, but I'm sure the Chinese have had a good go," the Daily Telegraph reported Hague as saying. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?