CSOs who allow staff to use iPhones on their networks — and that includes a lot of Canadian organizations — may be wondering what to do about the latest accusation about potential holes in the smart phone’s security, particularly the source: China’s CCTV network.

On the one hand, hackers from China are apparently quite skilled at getting into government networks, as reports from Canada and the U.S. assert. On the other hand, it’s easy to dismiss a claim from a Chinese broadcaster possibly trying to diss a Western product.

“CCTV’s latest attack against Apple may have some grounds in reality,” says Forbes columnist and journalism professor Doug Young, “but is politically motivated and designed to undermine the company and western technology in general.”

Some background: Last week CCTV quoted the head of the online security institute at People’s Public Security University of China saying a data tracking function on iPhones could leak location data to anyone, including police and government agencies.

By co-incidence (or not) the report comes at a time when the Chinese government has told carriers there to chop handset subsidies to subscribers, which as Bloomberg News notes would increase the prices of foreign-made smart phones (like the iPhone) and favour locally-made devices.

Apple decided not to make a big deal of the CCTV report, saying in a statement that the location feature can be turned off and thanking the broadcaster for helping educate consumers.

“Some observers might note that Apple didn’t deny that it had the ability to track users’ locations,” Young chips in, “and I suspect that anyone with enough sophistication could probably hack into an individual iPhone to find that person’s whereabouts. Perhaps this story does draw some attention to the growing sophistication of technology to track every move a person makes.

“But,” he adds, “there are already so many such ways to track people and monitor what they’re doing that this latest revelation about Apple and iPhones seems like just another piece in a much larger picture.”


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