Technology titans including Apple, Samsung and Microsoft have been quick to respond to the Wikileaks files detailing CIA hacking tools by publishing security reviews of their products.
The whistleblower website, founded by Julian Assange in 2006, published on Tuesday the first part of what it code-named ‘Vault 7’. ‘Vault 7’ is the largest ever collection of confidential documents relating to the CIA. The first volume, called ‘Year Zero’, detailed the agency’s ability to exploit weaknesses in microphones on devices like smartphones and tablets as part of the agency’s hacking methods.
The leak made reference to ‘zero day’ exploits and faults used by the CIA in their hacking, which denote previously unknown flaws in the operating system’s code that have been exploited. This is despite the increase in the use of ‘ethical hackers’ by large companies to identify and eliminate security flaws.
“‘Year Zero’ introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of ‘zero day’ weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products,” said the Wikileaks release accompanying the leak on Tuesday. “These include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”
The companies named in the leak have been quick to address it. Many have published security reviews and provided reassurances to customers that the accusations are being fully explored.
“The technology built into today’s iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers, and we are working to keep it that way,” said a statement from Apple. “While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities.”
The CIA has yet to officially confirm the validity of the documents released, but their appearance has already garnered a concerned response from all corners.
“If what I have read is true, then this seems to be an incredibly damaging leak in terms of the tactics, techniques, procedures and tools that were used by the Central Intelligence Agency to conduct legitimate foreign intelligence,” ex-CIA director Michael Hayden told the BBC.
“In other words, it’s made my country and my country’s friends less safe.”