Russian officials have been advised to stop using iPhones due to unverified accusations made by the country’s intelligence service.

The Financial Times reported that, commencing July 17, employees within Russia’s trade ministry will be prohibited from utilising iPhones during work hours. Other ministries, including one currently undisclosed, are reportedly planning to follow suit, along with the state oil company, Rostec.

The decision to distance themselves from Apple products initially emerged in March when the Kremlin instructed officials to abandon the use of these devices due to concerns surrounding potential vulnerabilities exploited by US hackers.

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Subsequently, in June, the Russian government accused Apple of collaborating with US intelligence agencies, an allegation firmly refuted by the company.

The accusation stemmed from a report by a cybersecurity firm, asserting that iPhones running outdated versions of iOS had been infected with malware, rendering them susceptible to eavesdropping, as reported by The Washington Post.

Despite the claims made by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), no substantiating evidence has been presented, and independent security experts have found no indication that Apple has incorporated any form of “backdoor” exemption into the device’s encryption.

This is not to imply that no genuine security vulnerabilities exist. Following Russia’s allegations, Apple swiftly responded by releasing software patches for its iOS system, acknowledging the role played by researchers at the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab in identifying these weaknesses.

It is worth noting that the ban on official usage will not impact the general public. Apple withdrew from the Russian market in the wake of last year’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Nonetheless, Apple products continue to be imported from other countries.

The iPhone 14 is listed by MTS, Russia’s largest cellphone provider, with a price tag slightly exceeding $1,200, while a comparable model retails for $999 in the United States.