Will WikiLeaks work with tech companies to defeat CIA hacks?
The anti-se- crecy group WikiLeaks raised the prospect Wednesday of sharing sensitive details it uncovered about CIA hacking tools with leading tech- nology companies whose flag- ship products and services have been targets of the government’s spying.
If that sharing takes place, it would give companies such as Apple, Google, Mic- rosoft, Samsung and others an opportunity to identify and repair any flaws in their soft- ware and devices that have been exploited by U.S. spy agencies and some foreign allies, as described in nearly 9,000 pages of secret CIA files WikiLeaks published Tuesday.
The documents, which the White House declined Wednesday to confirm as authentic, describe clandestine meth- ods for bypassing or defeating encryption, antivirus tools and other protective security features for comput- ers, mobile phones and even smart TVs. They include the world’s most popular technology platforms, including Apple’s iPhones and iPads, Google’s Android phones and the Microsoft Windows oper- ating system for desktop com- puters and laptops.
“This is the kind of disclo- sure that undermines our security, our country and our well-being,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said. “This alleged leak should con- cern every single American.”
Spicer defended then-candidate Donald Trump’s com- ment in October that “I love WikiLeaks!” after it published during the presidential campaign private, politically dam- aging emails stolen from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager. Spicer said there was a “massive differ- ence” between WikiLeaks publishing stolen the purloined emails of a political figure and files about national security tools used by the CIA.
The CIA has declined to con- firm that the documents are authentic. But Wednesday, the agency said Americans should be “deeply troubled” by the disclosures.
WikiLeaks has not released the actual hacking tools themselves, some of which were developed by government hackers, while others were purchased from outsiders. The group indicated it was still considering its options but said in a statement Wednesday: “Tech companies are saying they need more details of CIA attack techniques to fix them faster. Should WikiLeaks work directly with them?”
It wasn’t clear if WikiLeaks — a strident critic of Google and Facebook, among others — was serious about such action. A message seeking additional details from WikiLeaks was not immediately returned, and an attempt to speak to founder Julian Assange on Tuesday was rebuffed.
The political fallout and damage to U.S. intelligence operations were still being assessed Wednesday. A former head of the CIA and National Security Agency, Michael Hayden, sought to assure people the U.S. would use such cyberweapons only against foreign targets.