AFP/File / SAUL LOEB-
The Central Intelligence Agency on
Wednesday accused WikiLeaks of endangering
Americans, helping US rivals and hampering
Washington's fight against terror threats by
releasing what the anti-secrecy site claimed
was a trove of CIA hacking tools.
A CIA spokeswoman would not confirm the
authenticity of the materials published a
day earlier by WikiLeaks, which said they
were leaked from the spy agency's hacking
Nevertheless, said spokeswoman Heather
Fritz Horniak, "The American public should
be deeply troubled by any WikiLeaks
disclosure designed to damage the
intelligence community's ability to protect
America against terrorists and other
"Such disclosures not only jeopardize US
personnel and operations, but also equip our
adversaries with tools and information to do
us harm," she said.
Horniak defended the CIA's cyber
operations, which the WikiLeaks materials
showed focused heavily on breaking into
personal electronics using a wide range of
"It is CIA's job to be innovative,
cutting-edge, and the first line of defense
in protecting this country from enemies
abroad," she said.
- Massive leak -
On Tuesday, WikiLeaks published nearly
9,000 documents it said were part of a huge
trove leaked from the CIA, describing it as
the largest-ever publication of secret
"This extraordinary collection, which
amounts to more than several hundred million
lines of code, gives its possessor the
entire hacking capacity of the CIA," it
The documents showed that CIA hackers can
turn a TV into a listening device, bypass
popular encryption apps, and possibly
control one's car.
AFP / John
SAEKICIA spying on gadgets
Most experts believe the materials to be
genuine, and US media said Wednesday that
the Federal Bureau of Investigation is
opening a criminal probe into the leak.
The source of the materials remained
unclear. The investigation could focus on
whether the CIA was sloppy in its controls,
or, as the Washington Post reported, it
could be "a major mole hunt" for a malicious
leaker or turncoat inside the agency.
WikiLeaks itself said the documents,
hacking tools and code came from an archive
that had circulated among US government
hackers and private contractors, "one of
whom has provided WikiLeaks with a portion
of the archive."
An investigation would come as the CIA is
already enmeshed in a politically-charged
probe into Russia's alleged interference in
the US election last year in support of
President Donald Trump's campaign.
WikiLeaks, which has stunned the US
government with a series of publications of
top secret political, diplomatic and
intelligence materials, said the publication
Tuesday was only the first of a series of
releases of CIA hacking materials.
That raised concerns that the site could
release the actual hacking tools it obtained
along with the documents. Experts worry
those could fall into the hands of anyone,
including US enemies and criminals.
- Tech sector scrambles for fixes -
The WikiLeaks documents detailed the
CIA's practice of exploiting vulnerabilities
in hardware and software, without ever
informing producers of them.
The CIA allegedly found ways to hack into
personal electronics from leading companies
like Apple and Samsung, Android phones,
popular Microsoft software, and crucial
routers from major manufacturers.
/ Jack Taylor"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," Apple said in
an emailed statement on the WikiLeaks
The documents suggest it can also
infiltrate smartphones in a way that allows
it to get around popular messaging
The tech sector was scrambling to
understand how their products were at risk.
"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," Apple said in
an emailed statement.
Samsung and Microsoft both said they were
"looking into" what WikiLeaks revealed.
- Encryption apps safe-
Joseph Hall, a technologist with the
Center for Democracy and Technology, a
digital rights organization, said the
documents raise questions about the US
government's pledge last year to disclose
vulnerabilities to technology firms.
That pledge means "security flaws should
get back to the companies so they can get
fixed, and not languish for years," he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union
commented in a tweet: "When the govt finds
software security holes, it should help fix
them, not hoard them and leave everyone
Ironically, the companies that make
encryption programs and apps targeted by the
CIA said the revelations show the agency has
not been able to break their software.
Open Whisper Systems, which developed the
technology for the Signal encryption app,
said the CIA documents showed that Signal
"None of the exploits are in Signal or
break Signal Protocol encryption," the group
said in a tweet.
"The existence of these hacking tools is
a testimonial to the strength of the
encryption," said Steve Bellovin, a Columbia
University computer science researcher, in a