In an effort to safeguard against the risk of sensitive information being intercepted by foreign intelligence agencies, the Russian government has imposed a ban on officials overseeing the 2024 presidential election from using iPhones.
The ban was announced by Sergei Kiriyenko, the deputy head of presidential administration during a meeting with officials, where he stressed the need for officials to replace their phones by April 1.
The primary reason behind the ban is the fear that iPhones are vulnerable to being bugged by intelligence agencies of Western countries.
This concern stems from the fact that the iPhone has been the target of big-time hacks in the past, including the use of spyware like Pegasus and other similar tools. The ban on iPhones is not limited to officials overseeing the presidential election alone, but also applies to officials who manage domestic politics.
The ban means that Russian officials will have to replace their iPhones with devices that use a different operating system provided by the Kremlin. While the Kremlin has not officially confirmed the type of phone officials will be required to use, reports suggest that officials will be given phones that run on a domestic operating system, which is perceived to be more secure.
The ban on iPhones does not affect the general public in Russia, but it is a clear indication of the level of concern the Russian government has regarding the security of its communication systems. The ban also underscores the level of sophistication that Western intelligence agencies possess in their ability to intercept and monitor electronic communications.
While Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not confirm the ban on iPhones, he did stress the importance of not using smartphones for official purposes. According to Peskov, all smartphones have a transparent mechanism, regardless of the operating system – be it Android or iOS. This mechanism, he said, made cellphones unsuitable for official use.