Cyber Attacks Linked to CIA
April 18, 2017
A string of cyber attacks across the globe that were conducted with classified hacking tools were brought to light by the Web publisher WikiLeaks. This information suggests that the attacks were likely conducted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Multiple files exposed by WikiLeaks appear to show internal CIA conversations of various tools for hacking into phones, computers, and electronic gear. Also included with the discussions was a programming code for some electronic devices. Having access to the programming codes allows hackers to completely control various devices.
The documents released came from the CIA or their contractors. Symantec said it had connected at least 40 attacks in 16 countries to the tools obtained by WikiLeaks, however it followed company policy by not formally blaming the CIA. The multiple attacks on 16 countries involved targeting the country’s government and security.
The CIA has not confirmed the Wikileaks documents are genuine. The CIA tools described by Wikileaks do not involve mass surveillance, and all of the targets were government entities or had legitimate national security value for other reasons. Symantec said sectors targeted by operations employing the tools included financial, telecommunications, energy, aerospace, information technology, education, and natural resources.
Besides Europe, countries were hit in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. One computer was infected in the United States in what was likely an accident – the infection was removed within hours. All the programs were used to open back doors, collect and remove copies of files, rather than to destroy anything. The CIA is best-known for its human intelligence sources and analysis, not vast electronic operations. For that reason, being forced to build new tools is a setback but not a catastrophe.