The US authorities constructed a secret iPod with Apple’s assist, says the previous engineer

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An Apple engineer who helped launch the iPod mentioned he helped the US authorities construct a secret model of the system that may very well be used to covertly acquire information.

David Shayer, the second software program engineer employed on the iPod mission in 2001, mentioned he first discovered in regards to the mission in 2005 when he obtained an workplace go to from his boss’s boss.

“It received to the purpose,” Shayer mentioned in a publish printed Monday by TidBITS, a web based publication that covers the whole lot associated to Apple. ‘I’ve a particular job for you. Your boss would not find out about it. You’re serving to two engineers from the US Division of Power construct a particular iPod. Simply get in contact with me. ‘”

Customized {hardware}, customized working system

Shayer mentioned that over the following a number of months he recurrently helped the 2 males he recognized solely as engineers Paul and Matthew who labored for Bechtel (their supposedly edited enterprise playing cards are pictured above). There have been mundane chores, like Shayer taking her from the foyer to the ultra-secure areas the place iPod growth passed off.

And there was the not-so-everyday duty of serving to two outsiders to take the supply code supplied by Apple and compile it into the working system on which it shortly turned maybe probably the most well-known music participant on this planet. Amongst different issues, Shayer helped the lads to search out their manner across the Home windows-based developer instruments that Apple used to develop software program for ARM chips.

Shayer mentioned Apple didn’t give engineers direct entry to its supply code server, however as an alternative supplied a replica of the supply code on a DVD with an settlement by no means to go away the constructing. (Apple, Shayer mentioned, finally allowed the lads to maintain the modified copy of the working system they created, however not the supply code.)

Shayer continued:

After they discovered their manner across the system, they defined what they needed to do, a minimum of broadly. That they had added particular {hardware} to the iPod that created information that they secretly needed to file. They made positive I by no means noticed the {hardware}, and I by no means did.

We have mentioned one of the best ways to cover the recorded information. As a tough drive engineer, I urged creating one other partition on the exhausting drive to retailer your information. That manner, even when somebody connects the modified iPod to a Mac or PC, iTunes will deal with it like a daily iPod and appear to be a daily iPod within the Mac Finder or Home windows Explorer. They favored that and it was a hidden partition.

Subsequent, they needed a simple option to begin and cease recording. We selected the menu path with the deepest settings and added a innocent sounding menu on the finish. I helped them get this into the code which was fairly apparent. In any other case, the system labored like a standard iPod.

A Geiger counter? “Actually?”

Shayer mentioned he by no means knew precisely what the modified iPod was doing. He knew the engineers had been combining the modified working system with {hardware} added to a fifth technology iPod. The objective was to create a tool that might file environmental information and write it to the system disk – all in a manner that isn’t straightforward to see.

Primarily based on the Division of Power’s oversight of nuclear weapons and applications, he speculates that the key iPod ought to include a Geiger counter that might covertly observe down stolen uranium, proof of a grimy bomb growth program, or the like.

Apple didn’t reply to a number of emails despatched over two days to obtain a remark for this publish. Tony Fadell, who was senior vice chairman of the iPod division on the time, has reached out to Twitter for the previous two days to say Shayer’s account is appropriate and to supply some extra particulars. In keeping with Shayer, Fadell was one in every of solely 4 individuals inside Apple who knew in regards to the mission. By a consultant, Fadell declined to remark. Makes an attempt to contact Shayer had been unsuccessful.

“Completely proper for David Shayer,” mentioned Fadell, who has typically been known as “the daddy of the iPod” in Apple circles. wrote. “This mission was actual surely. There was a complete surreal drama and an attention-grabbing story about how this mission was began after which saved a secret. “

Whereas a secret iPod program sounds believable and has public endorsement from two respected individuals who might know, there’s comprehensible skepticism in regards to the account. The largest doubt is that the federal government’s customized iPod is getting used to measure radioactivity, versus, say, non-public conversations about excessive worth targets.

“I believe it is completely believable that DOE was in some way concerned in a feasibility research, for instance” What’s the threat, “fairly than” constructing this up and we’ll use it, “” Jake Williams, former Nationwide Safety Company hacker, advised me. “That mentioned, this seems like one thing you’ll need for intelligence operations, particularly items to overseas dignitaries, HUMINT belongings, and so on.” HUMINT refers to human intelligence or the gathering of data by private contact.

Williams, who continued after leaving the NSA co-founded Rendition Safety: “Earlier than Snowden and Vault 7, this might have been earth shaking. Not a lot now. Sadly, because the writer notes, there’s deliberately no hint of paper. “

With out a paper path, particulars of these few months 15 years in the past will probably stay a carefully guarded secret. There is no such thing as a doubt that the report creates intrigue and nearly irresistible hypothesis.


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