Even with chunks of source code redacted, the WikiLeaks CIA dump could still prove invaluable to hackers and foreign governments, warn security experts.
The trove of documents allegedly containing the “entire hacking capacity of the CIA” was released by WikiLeaks Tuesday, sending shockwaves through Washington D.C. and Silicon Valley. Code-named "Vault 7" by WikiLeaks, the purported intelligence documents contain details of the CIA’s hacking arsenal – including malware, viruses, trojans and weaponized “zero day” exploits aimed at products from some of tech’s biggest names. Targets include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android operating system, Microsoft Windows and even Samsung TVs, according to WikiLeaks.
The collection of hacking tools amounts to “more than several hundred million lines of code,” WikiLeaks said, although the source code itself has been redacted from the incredible collection of more than 8,000 documents and files.
Pierre Roberge, chairman of cyber defense firm ARC4DIA told Fox News that, while the absence of source code limits foreign government from immediately exploiting the leak, the dump will still cause problems down the road.
The vast trove of documents, he explained via email, is “a great guide for hackers,” offering plenty of detailed information on how to approach and solve hacking problems. “It is safe to say that it will certainly help increase the cybersecurity arsenals of foreign governments and criminals in the not-too-distant future,” he added. “If WikiLeaks or others were to release the source code, the impact would be major - enabling criminals and foreign government to quickly bootstrap [a] new hacking toolbox.”
“The leak has strengthened the ability of all potential hackers, this would include foreign entities,” added Rick Hanson, executive vice president of cybersecurity specialist Skyport Systems, in an email to Fox News. “The ability for the general public to have a clear understanding of flaws in technology and the tools to violate them should cause an alarm to go off. We are now all inherently less secure because of this.”
WikiLeaks says that the source behind the leak wants to spark a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyber weapons. The source is described as a being a former U.S. Government hacker or contractor.
“Once a single cyber 'weapon' is 'loose' it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike,” WikiLeaks said, in its press release.
Roberge told Fox News that the documents will also give good leads to cybersecurity companies about CIA hacking. “If more tools and binaries will be released, it will have a major impact in finding out if customers have been hacked or not by the CIA,” he said.
The leak has also thrust companies’ security into the spotlight. “Individuals and companies who discover they are using vulnerable products will have to assess their own risks and decide what course of action to take to mitigate it,” explained Shuman Ghosemajumder, CTO at Shape Security. “This may involve temporarily disabling or disallowing some products until vulnerabilities are patched, or even switching to new products.”
Organizations must focus on the notion of “trust but verify,” added Varun Badhwar, CEO of cloud security specialist RedLock, noting that companies need to closely monitor network traffic, system security and user behavior. “Organizations must operate under the assumption that they will get breached someday, and be prepared to rapidly investigate, contain and respond to security incidents within hours – not months or years as is the case today.”
In a statement sent to TechCrunch, Apple said that most of the iOS exploits cited in the leaked documents have already been patched. In a statement sent to Fox News Samsung said that it is aware of the WikiLeaks report and is “urgently looking into the matter.”
“We’re aware of the report and are looking into it,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Fox News, via email.
"As we’ve reviewed the documents, we're confident that security updates and protections in both Chrome and Android already shield users from many of these alleged vulnerabilities," said Heather Adkins, Google's Director of Information Security and Privacy, in a statement emailed to Fox News. "Our analysis is ongoing and we will implement any further necessary protections. We've always made security a top priority and we continue to invest in our defenses."
The CIA told Fox News that it does not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.
Additional reporting by Alex Diaz.
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