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NSA can reportedly access secure BlackBerry email, 'tap' other smartphones

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BlackBerry Bold (STOCK)
BlackBerry Bold (STOCK)

Spiegel is reporting that it has seen "top secret NSA documents" that detail the NSA's ability to gather information from most smartphones, including iPhones, Android, and and BlackBerry phones. Though the article doesn't fully lay out the details, at the very least the NSA reportedly has scripts for gathering off of computers that — in the case of iOS — the phone has synced with. Though Spiegel uses the word "tap" repeatedly, it's unclear whether that means the NSA can actually access this data remotely — the ability to gather data from devices you have physical access to is relatively trivial, especially if that data isn't encrypted and only protected by a passcode.

However, Spiegel also reports that the NSA has been able to access the BlackBerry email system, which ostensibly is both encrypted and secure on the company's servers and on its phones. In a statement to Spiegel, the company denied that it had created a back door to its servers for the NSA. BlackBerry has issued similar denials in other contexts, though in the past it has admitted to providing the government of India some level of access in compliance with local law. BlackBerry would not comment directly on these latest allegations.

Apparently the NSA was unable to tap into some BlackBerry devices at one point in 2009, but one memo details a 2010 breakthrough in that regard and the memo allegedly noted the success by stating "champagne!" Spiegel says that tapping into smartphones was not "a mass phenomenon," and also says that it will provide more details in an article to be published this Monday.