When word broke of the NSA’s surveillance programs earlier this year, major companies named in the leaked documents tried to quash their customers’ privacy fears by issuing statements reiterating their commitment to privacy. Apple did something along the same lines, it said that the encrypting protecting iMessages is so secure that the company itself can’t decrypt it, meaning that even if it receives an order to intercept an iMessage, it can’t. Though earlier this week a group of researchers contradicted this claim and said that the company can read iMessages “if they choose to, or if they are required to do so by a government order.” Apple has now issued a denial.
The researchers from QuarksLab formed a theory about how iMessages can be intercepted, the called Apple’s control over the encryption key infrastructure a weakness and said that the company can change a key anytime it wants, which may result in an iMessage being intercepted and its contents being read. These researchers didn’t say that Apple is reading iMessages, they merely gave a theory which outlines a way that Apple may follow if it wants to read messages. Though Apple says that QuarkLab’s theory is exactly what it is, just a theory. A spokeswoman for Apple said that the iMessage service is “not architected to allow Apple to read messages,” and that the theoretical vulnerabilities described in the theory would require the company to re-engineer the iMessage system to exploit those vulnerabilities. The spokeswoman says that “Apple has no plans or intentions to do so.”