Russian Telecoms and Mass Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov announced to news agencies last Wednesday that Russian government officials are trading in their Apple iPad’s for Samsung tablets in a move to ensure tighter security. Journalists covering a cabinet meeting spotted the ministers without their Apple tablets and were informed that the change of devices took place not so long ago.
Nikiforov denied that this was a response against Western sanctions but instead said that products made by US companies might not be as secure as they want them to be. “American special services… will significantly increase the volume of information they intercept (which) of course causes serious concern to many governmental clients.” This comes as no surprise as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed that the NSA has been undertaking a secret massive surveillance program.
It is interesting to note that late last year a report was released that claimed the NSA had backdoor access to iPhones. The report is based on a leaked 2008 document. During this period iPhones did not have any encryption feature and all apps were able to run as root. It is still not known if this exploit is present in current devices. Security researcher Jacob Appelbaum said that the NSA had a 100% success rate at installing malware in iPhones. Apple has denied this claim.
The Samsung tablets being used right now are not the regular off the shelf products as it has an added layer of security. Nikiforov said that the new Samsung’s are “specially protected devices that can be used to work with confidential information.” He further added that “Some of the information at government meetings is confidential in nature and these devices fully meet these demands and have gone through the strictest system of certification.”
Security experts say that it must be Samsung’s KNOX security feature that made it attractive to the Russian government as Android is no more secure than iOS or any other mobile OS. Samsung KNOX allows for a more controlled and secure environment that allows business and personal content to coexist in one device without fear of any data leakage.