Investigators working to find the source of this week's WikiLeaks dump are likely set to focus on outside contractors for the CIA, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
A disaffected insider-- not a foreign government—is believed to be behind the leak of thousands of documents on the CIA’s cyberspying capabilities, investigators told The New York Times.
The FBI is hunting to find the responsible party for the leak and is set to interview possibly more than a thousand people who may have had access to the leaked information, the paper reported. The scope of the investigation will even reach contractors outside the CIA, The Times report said.
Documents released Tuesday by WikiLeaks allege a CIA surveillance program that targets everyday gadgets ranging from smart TVs to smartphones to cars.
Such snooping, WikiLeaks said, could turn some of these devices into recorders of everyday conversations — and could also circumvent data-scrambling encryption on communications apps such as Facebook's WhatsApp.
It is reportedly not clear that the CIA ever used the tools to conduct espionage. A CIA spokeswoman said the agency is prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance on U.S. citizens at home and the “CIA does not do so.”
WikiLeaks is, for now, withholding details on the specific hacks used "until a consensus emerges" on the nature of the CIA's program and how the methods should be "analyzed, disarmed and published."
But WikiLeaks — a nonprofit that routinely publishes confidential documents, frequently from government sources — claims that the data and documents it obtained reveal a broad program to bypass security measures on everyday products.
If true, the disclosure could spark new privacy tensions between the government and the technology industry. Relations have been fraught since 2013, when former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden disclosed secret NSA surveillance of phone and digital communications.
The CIA did not confirm the authenticity of the documents, but a spokesman for the agency said the release “equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm.”
A person familiar with the matter told The Journal that more than a dozen companies work of the CIA in formulating and testing these hacking tools. Most of the work is done in a factory in Dulles, Va., not Langley.
“This is the kind of disclosure that undermines our country, our security, and our well being,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary said.