Apple denies knowledge of secret NSA backdoors to its products

Apple has claimed that it has never worked with the United States National Security Agency to create tools that would allow its products to be secretly accessed.

It was revealed on Monday that major US tech companies, including Apple, have been subject to the NSA's Tailored Access Operations unit, which plants back doors in electronics. The report by German magazine Der Spiegel did not explicitly state whether any of the companies were working with the agency.

According to Der Spiegel, NSA agents working within a division called ANT have been able to covertly collect any data stored on an iPhone, including photos, voicemails, texts, contacts and live telephone conversations.

"Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a back door in any of our products, including iPhone," Apple said in a statement. "Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products.

"We care deeply about our customers' privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements."

According to Der Spiegel's report, the hacking software known as DropoutJeep was in operation in 2008, one year after the iPhone was first launched.

Within the 50-page NSA catalogue disclosed, it is revealed that DropoutJeep was only effective using "close access methods", meaning the software would need to be physically installed onto the iPhone in order to hack the device. However, a method to remotely install the software was apparently in development.

"Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple's industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers," Apple said.

"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."