back to article UK.gov BANS iPads from Cabinet over foreign eavesdropper fears

iPads and mobile devices have been banned from Cabinet meetings over concerns the mobile devices could be compromised by foreign governments trying to spy on top level government meetings, the Mail on Sunday reports. Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, used iPads in a presentation last week about how the Government …

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  1. Brent Longborough
    Mushroom

    The Ultimate Clusterfudge

    See, .gov.uk? Now you know how it feels to have strange untrusted persons hoovering up your junk.

    You can run, but you can't hide.

    BTW, .uk.gov includes Lab, Cons, Lib Dems, and Sir Malcolm Rifkind. A plague o' both your houses.

  2. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
    Devil

    A very reasonable approach. Given place of design crossed with place of manufacture. Who would be wary (do the probabity

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FEAR THE RED MENACE! Oh wait... what colour is the menace now?

    Anyway if they do have the tech they probably bought it off a dodgy yank.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Colour?

      Red, White and Blue. Wake-up and smell the freedom!

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Colour?

        "FEAR THE RED MENACE! Oh wait... what colour is the menace now?"

        "Red, White and Blue. Wake-up and smell the freedom!"

        Nah, just Red and Blue, the Reps and Dems collaborate to keep the Independents out of power.

    2. kain preacher Silver badge

      Well in this case the proper spelling is color. Last time I checked us Americans are not big on the letter U.

  4. Lockwood

    “I think my phone has been modified by GCHQ enough that it'd [bugging] be difficult, but I'm sure the Chinese have had a good go,"

    It's so full of GCHQ monitoring that there is no room for anyone else's

    1. Annihilator
      Black Helicopters

      Quite. Why he thinks that he's exempt from NSA/GCHQ monitoring is beyond me.

      Although by the same measure, I'm surprised it's taken them this long to twig that if they're doing things like this to other governments, it's fairly likely the same is happening to them.

    2. smudge Silver badge
      Holmes

      “I think my phone has been modified by GCHQ enough that it'd [bugging] be difficult, but I'm sure the Chinese have had a good go."

      GCHQ has taken the battery out so that they don't have to listen to him.

      1. JohnMurray

        What would he have to say that anyone would want to listen to?

        In fact I should imagine that everyone who is anyone in international espionage would rather listen to a cat crapping rather than Willy.

        As for GCHQ modifying his phone...........why bother.........let everyone listen, after they've been bored by his blather as long as the rest of us have been, they'd be candidates for suicide watch.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Hague

      “I think my phone has been modified by GCHQ enough that it'd [bugging] be difficult, but I'm sure the Chinese have had a good go," said Hague, after checking to make sure that he'd picked on the right latest enemy

  5. Stuart 16
    Trollface

    I thought people bought iPads so that others would finally pay some attention to them ?

  6. Dave Rickmers

    Is it really "malware" if the government forces manufacturers to include such capabilities? New cameras and phones can be disabled by civil authorities at will. If you want to document the Revolution, dig out your old Rolleiflex or Brownie.

    1. Old Handle

      Of course. Malevolence is judged with regard to the user.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd fear the USA more

    For years the FBI has been able to remotely bug people through their smartphone, imagine what the NSA could do. And we know the USA has form for spying on allies.

    1. JCitizen
      Big Brother

      Dear Anonymous Coward;

      You certainly have become a USAphobe!

  8. Sureo

    They could save a lot of money (needed for the aircraft carriers), don't buy the ipads, just issue pen and notebook.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Lusty Silver badge

      Re: What do they have to hide?

      I agree, the problem is only so large because so much government dealings are "secret". Given we elected them, realistically the vast majority of what these people say in meetings should be recorded and made public. Obviously there are exceptions for genuine security reasons, but everything else should be completely on the record and publicly available.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Foreign governments? I'd be more worried about newspaper hacks "doing" their phones than foreign spies.

  11. Micky 1

    Ban all electronic devices from top level meetings. Spend millions a year vetting potential staff, put physical security in place on the tops of buildings and spend more millions securing the room against people using any sort of bugging device, that'll make it super secure...right up until the point one of the idiots we voted into office leaves the minutes of the meeting on a train or in a taxi.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Joke

      You missed off making the rooms air-tight. They just need to ensure that they can open the doors each time there is an election to change over the MPs

    2. I'm Brian and so's my wife

      Or walks out of the door of No 10 with the papers on view to the waiting press

  12. JaitcH
    Unhappy

    Who the hell would want to bug a meeting of vapid Tories ...

    masturbating their egos. Can you imagine how boring it could be listening to the likes of May, Hague or Cameron.

    Next, lead-lined boxes will be de rigeur for board rooms, as the latest corporate status symbol.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who the hell would want to bug a meeting of vapid Tories ...

      What, like Labour is any better? Who are you kidding, mate?

    2. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Who the hell would want to bug a meeting of vapid Tories ...

      Can you imagine how boring it could be listening to the likes of May, Hague or Cameron.

      Actually this whole issue of interception and that mention of May hss just reminded me of the story regarding Theresa May (Home Secretary) and Teresa May (porn star) - they both have London correspondence addresses and keep getting each other's letters.

      I've often wondered which I feel more sorry for - the Home Secretary inadvertently getting lusty sex fantasies or the porn star getting letters starting "My dustbin hasn't been emptied for five weeks..."

      1. Soap Distant

        Re: Who the hell would want to bug a meeting of vapid Tories ...

        "I've often wondered which I feel more sorry for - the Home Secretary inadvertently getting lusty sex fantasies or the porn star getting letters starting "My dustbin hasn't been emptied for five weeks...""

        Is that true? That's quite funny. I think I might write her a letter saying how I'd like to do <many rude things to her> and then add a paragraph at the end asking why my bin hasn't been emptied.

        On second thoughts, a quick visit to google images changed my mind. About which one to send the letter to at least!

        SD

        1. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: Who the hell would want to bug a meeting of vapid Tories ...

          The other side of Theresa May http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/646474.stm

  13. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Domestic suppliers - strategic advantage

    > I'm sure the Chinese have had a good go

    If I was running the country that made the chips, firmware and phones themselves I'd have many, many opportunities to add surveillance abilities right down to the level of the silicon. So if you really want a secure phone, there seems to be few options other than building your own - from scratch.

    Shame we blew it.

  14. Crisp Silver badge

    Better late than never Gov.UK

    In future, I recommend closing the stable door before the horse has bolted.

  15. Maharg
    Facepalm

    Is this the same Francis Maude?

    That installed his own Wi-Fi network in his Westminster office?

    (from theguardian.com)

    "Maude had the wireless network set up “so he can use his phone and iPad in his office” (because the current one is "rubbish")

    Security researcher Rik Ferguson describes Maude's “willingness to endanger the security of the parliamentary network, systems and data” as “incredible”.

    “If he really has ‘installed his own Wi-Fi’ … then that network segment will not be configured, managed or audited by security experts in the House of Commons, rendering them blind to the the risks it represents,” Ferguson adds. “Actions like those of Mr Maude demonstrate, yet again, that it’s not only the bad guys you have to worry about.”

    Four of the six levels of security classification are to be depreciated in an effort to allow Cabinet Office staff to use more off-the-shelf hardware. "

    The security of the country vs wanting to use an iPad

    It sounds like the plot to a new episiode of Yes Minister

  16. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Headline exageration or just plain Flamebait?

    As the text says, all tablets and mobiles have been banned from Cabinet meetings so why pick on Apple?

    Sensationalism, Click Bait?

    Almost as bad as the Daily Star !

    1. Busby

      Re: Headline exageration or just plain Flamebait?

      Sensationalism, Click Bait?

      Almost as bad as the Daily Star !

      So are you new round here or just forget which site your on?

      Despite some genuinely great articles El Reg headlines are always click bait of the worst order. Usually worth a read anyway just not necessarily for the reason you would assume from the headline.

  17. auburnman

    Might be a market for a secure phone where you can plug/unplug the microphone and or camera at will.

  18. alain williams Silver badge

    What about the direct feed to Cupertino ?

    Forget malware, what about these things being tied to the Apple HQ? All the settings and other stuff that Apple ''helpfully backs up'' and so sucks down to its data centers. The NSA will have a copy of that! iWhatevers belonging to MPs, civil servants and industry top brass are going to be of special interest.

    I have been yelling at my (Tory) MP about this since he got elected, the message has still only got partly there :-(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about the direct feed to Cupertino ?

      All the settings and other stuff that Apple ''helpfully backs up'' and so sucks down to its data centers

      If you let it. Any idiot who uses iCloud or especially this new password manager thing should be banned from being near anything confidential.

      As for locking electronic gadgets away for sensitive meetings, that is Apple specific nor new - that rule has existed for decades in places like MI5 and GCHQ, and for good reasons. Personally, I think this is the one good thing that has come out of all those leaks: FINALLY people begin to wake up.

  19. Big_Ted

    Its time........

    To buy shares in Blackberry......

    I can see the world's governments etc etc queing up for their kit. Canada will once again be the greatest spy country on the planet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its time........

      I am amused by your assertion that Blackberrys are secure. The only way they are used in governments is if the governments have the keys themselves, a situation you will not have if you run a company.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Security services fear that China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan might have developed the ability to turn mobiles into microphones using malware, the MoS reports."

    Note which country is absent.

    1. Maharg

      @AC 15:10

      >>Security services fear that China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan might have developed the ability to turn mobiles into microphones using malware, the MoS reports."

      Note which country is absent.<<

      I guess you mean the US? The US is not absent from that list. The list is of countries that “might” have developed the ability, I think we can all assume the US HAVE developed the ability.

      In fact, I think this is the way most of these reports will continue, assuming whatever it is the US can and has done it, and just listing the countries they are unsure about.

  21. HereWeGoAgain

    'foreign' is defined as 'not American'

    Most if not all of the cabinet are spies for America. They willingly reveal secret information to their buddies and paymasters in America. Basically the cabinet is a cabinet of traitors.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 'foreign' is defined as 'not American'

      No - you are thinking of the last lot, Tory MPs usually spy for the other side.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They will have to

    buy alternatives instead. Don't worry MPs as a taxpayer I'll fund this one. Turn that heating up a couple of notches too after all you don't have to pay for it.

  23. Captain DaFt

    Given human nature

    Sure, the devices are locked up secure during the meetings.

    Then after the meeting, Everybody grabs their devices and start tweeting, texting, skypeing, and emailing about what went on... Might as well have all meetings streamed live for all the good it'll do'em!

  24. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Are the MPs still publishing their official and formal signatures online?

    Ah! Thought so. Shame innit?

    When one gets soft-soaped cuckolded by one's civil service one's paranoia tends to diminish if not disintegrate altogether.

    And what's this delusion about governments?

    Do ministers mean the UK civil service?

    Don't they know that any1 might wish to hack upon them?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The tosser aka Willy Hague said "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear"

    It's alright when you have the option innit Hague?

  26. bitten
    Boffin

    "lead-lined boxes" the lead is against superman x-ray vision, whatever that is

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