Yesterday, Wikileaks unveiled the contents of an immense hack on the CIA, the bulk of which pertains to the agency’s ability to remotely access everyday consumer electronics. Called “Vault 7,” the dossier contains upwards of 10,000 documents detailing the CIA’s hacking arsenal, revealing the vulnerability of everything from your cherished iPhone to household televisions produced by Samsung.
Apropos of this, major tech companies are addressing what Wikileaks is calling the “largest ever publication of confidential documents” on the CIA. Apple, for its part, claims that many of the susceptibilities in its software targeted by the agency have already been patched as part of its latest iOS update.
“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," a spokesperson told reporters.
Vault 7 describes in vast detail the CIA’s advanced hacking methods, which includes “malware, viruses, trojans, [and] weaponized "zero day" exploits,” -- or software deficiencies exploited in various Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung products. Many other companies offered routine assurances that the matter is being “urgently addressed,” while Google -- the parent company of Android -- has been mum regarding the revelations.
The CIA’s surveillance program placed special emphasis on Apple products. As noted in a Wikileaks press release: “Despite iPhone's minority share (14.5%) of the global smart phone market in 2016, a specialized unit in the CIA's Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads.”
The trove contains intel on various programs aimed at breaching iPhones and iPads -- many of which were shared with different intelligence agencies such as the NSA and Great Britain’s GCHQ -- which were active from 2013 to 2016. In its statement, Apple was clear to express its priority of maintaining a robust security apparatus “committed to safeguarding our customers’ privacy and security.” Nonetheless, the company was forthcoming about what customers can do to ensure their phones aren’t ensnared in the CIA’s dragnet:
“We always urge customers to download the latest iOS to make sure they have the most recent security updates.”