The whistleblower website Wikileaks release largest leak of CIA documents publishing thousands of pages describing sophisticated software tools and techniques employed by the agency to break into smartphones, computers and Internet-connected televisions.
The documents include instructions for compromising a broad range of standard computer tools that are used for spying such as Skype, Wi-Fi networks, documents in PDF format, and commercial antivirus programs that are employed by millions of people to protect their computers.
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According to the documents, a program called Wrecking Crew explains to crash a targeted computer. Another program provides detailed instructions on how to steal passwords using the auto-complete function on Internet Explorer.
The release included 7,818 web pages with 943 attachments, many of them partly redacted by the website’s editors to avoid disclosing the actual code for cyber weapons.
The group said that the entire archive of CIA material contains several hundred millions of computer code.
Wikileaks release Largest Leak of CIA documents is the latest coup for the website, but bad news for phone companies such as Apple, whose products are considered safe by users.
WikiLeaks said the CIA and allied intelligence services have managed to compromise both Apple and Android smartphones, allowing their agents to bypass the encryption on traditional services such as WhatsApp and Telegram.
The website said that government hackers are now able to penetrate smartphones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”
However, Apple has released a statement saying that in as far as they knew, they have patched, or fixed, the bugs allegedly used by the CIA to hack into their products.
“Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ privacy and security. The technology built into today’s iPhone represents the best data protection available to consumers, and we are working to keep it that way,” a statement from the company read.
The report added that Apple products and software are designed to get security updates into the hands of their customers quickly.
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According to the declaration, the company’s initial analysis on the issues leaked by WikiLeaks showed that they were already patched in the latest iOS.
Apple also promised to continue to address any other identified vulnerabilities rapidly to aid after Wikileaks release largest leak of CIA documents. Apple customers were also urged to download the latest iOS to make sure that they have the most recent security updates.
iPhones are usually seen as a secure choice than Android. However, WikiLeak’s claim that the CIA has exploits that could work on them was received with shock by consumers.
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The whistleblower website did not, however, include details of how those exploits work, potentially making it difficult for Apple to conclude with absolute certainty whether it had patched all the bugs in their system that were being used by the CIA.
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The bugs are commonly referred to as ‘zero days’, a name given to bugs or other issues with a piece of technology that the manufacturer is not yet aware of.
Zero days are problems within a machine that the maker has had zero days to fix, and through which a hacker can use to break in.