Mar 10, 2015 · 1 minute

Researchers affiliated with the CIA have worked since 2006 to undermine the security features built into iOS devices, according to a report from the Intercept based on top-secret documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Intercept reports that the researchers have attempted to crack the encryption used to protect information stored on iPhones and iPads; made a malicious version of the Xcode developer tool to compromise any applications it creates; and used the software update tool on Apple computers to install a keylogger, among other things.

Perhaps the most worrisome of those revelations is the one involving Xcode. All iOS applications must be created with the tool -- otherwise they can't be sold through the App Store. It's not clear how the researchers planned to get developers to use the tool, but if they did, an untold number of applications could be compromised.

The revelations also highlight the government's hypocrisy towards undermining the security of tech products. In addition to secretly attacking these products since their debut, members of the government have also publicly complained about them. FBI Director James Comey has been a particularly fierce opponent of increased security.

As I wrote when President Obama condemned China's decision to force tech companies to add backdoors to their products if they want to do business in the country:

The government simply can’t have it both ways. It can bully tech companies into creating these backdoors and accept that foreign governments will do the same or exploit those made for the US; or it can require tech companies to protect consumer data, full stop.

Which means Obama’s remarks — and similar comments made by other government officials — are nothing more than hypocritical posturing. And until that changes, I doubt China is going to take the president’s criticisms seriously. Why listen to a hypocrite? The United States simply cannot complain about other governments working to collect information from tech products if it's going to do the same thing. And by exploiting any of these vulnerabilities -- or asking Apple to introduce more -- the government is actually making it easier for other countries to spy on these products.