Of course, Apple dismissed Snowden’s claim as “magical” – everyone knows that the iPhone was designed by Steve Jobs and is therefore completely unhackable and absolutely secure. For some reason, the company didn’t comment the well-known fact that it takes experts less than a minute to break into one.
On the other hand, a group of cunning iPhone hackers claims it is possible. The only thing the spies have to do is trick the user into installing malware before shutting down the iPhone. That malware would make the device look like it is shutting down, showing the user a fake “slide to power off” screen. But instead of powering down, the device would enter a low-power mode which leaves its baseband chip responsible for communication with the carrier on.
The chances are that the NSA could install that malware before you even bought your iPhone. Now everyone knows how NSA intercepted routers from Cisco to install backdoors, so it would just be a doddle for the agency to show up at an Apple store and install their own software before putting the devices on sale. By the way, this may explain the constant troubles with battery life which consumes power for hell knows what in great quantities.
The same hackers pointed out that that you are still able to completely turn off your iPhone so nobody can use it to spy on you (that is if you have something to hide or just don’t like the fact of being tracked). The hacker even specified that their method doesn’t involve a hammer and changing your iPhone for another device, like the Russian government did – not the hammers of course, but they changes all their iPhones for Samsungs in just one day.
So, what is the method for those who still feel they have no spare money to buy another phone right now? They can turn off their iPhones by putting the device into firmware upgrade (DFU) mode. This is a kind of “panic” state, which let the device reinstall its firmware or recover from repeated OS crashes. In DFU mode all elements of the device are entirely shut down except its USB port – that one would be waiting for a signal from iTunes to install new firmware.