British newspapers are reporting that iPads are being banned from closed doors meetings and other sensitive conversations for fear that the devices could be hacked and used to listen to the matters being discussed.
The Telegraph states that the securities services fear foreign intelligence agencies have developed the ability to turn mobile devices such as phones and tablets into “bugs” without the owner’s knowledge, allowing them to eavesdrop on confidential meetings.
It is feared China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan have developed the ability to turn mobiles into microphones and turn them into transmitters even when they are turned off, using a Trojan computer virus. Ministers in sensitive government departments have been issued with soundproof lead-lined boxes, which they must place their mobiles in when having sensitive conversations, it emerged this week.
The Daily Mail has also reported the story:
The No 10 security team was very jumpy about last week’s Cabinet meeting. The cause of their concern: the presence of a clutch of iPads. Their worry was that the devices could be hacked by a foreign power and used to listen in to Cabinet. So, Ministers were instructed not to touch them.
The ban applies to all mobile devices, including phones and tablets from other manufacturers, but the implementations of iPads in particular (under the Government Digital Service) was set to save the UK government around £2 billion over the next four years. But for now, it looks like the British government will be back to good old pen and paper in those sensitive meetings.