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WikiLeaks surprises the technology sector

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WikiLeaks surprises the technology sector

“There is nothing illegal,” says Bruce Schneier, director of technology for IBM Resilient

  The big technology groups were again surprised by WikiLeaks revelations about CIA techniques that allow transforming Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s smart TVs into espionage tools. Apple, Microsoft and Google were already in trouble in 2013 when Edward Snowden demonstrated how the US National Security Agency (NSA) accessed their servers.

   According to the WikiLeaks documents, the CIA would have developed about a thousand malicious programs among viruses, Trojan horses and other computer programs, which allow to infiltrate and control electronic devices, smartphones, smart TVs and even vehicles to spy on their users. Aware of the risk that this situation entails for their image, since hacking methods would allow the CIA to avoid the encrypted protections of messaging applications such as WhatsApp (Facebook) or Signal, the most important companies in the sector were quick to react to the new leaks, which seem to show that there are still major failures in terms of security.

Apple said that “most” of the gaps have already been resolved in the latest version of its iOS operating system for its iPhones, iPad tablets and laptops. “We will continue working to quickly solve any vulnerability that we identify,” the company said in a statement, recalling that it always asks its users to download the latest version of its operating system because it usually fixes the flaws.

Samsung, his great South Korean rival and whose smart TVs could also be controlled by the CIA, said on his side that “the privacy of users and the security of our devices are priorities.” “We are aware of the report in question and we are dealing with the matter,” he said.

The giant Microsoft, also affected through its Windows operating system, simply said that it had “knowledge” of the WikiLeaks revelations and that it was “analyzing” them. This new series of revelations threatens to further poison already strained relations between technology groups and US intelligence services.

Security experts estimate, however, that the breadth of the revelations is not the same as in the Snowden case. “Snowden revealed how the NSA monitored all Americans, and there is nothing similar (in the documents) published about the CIA,” Robert Graham, a researcher at Errata Security, wrote in a blog.

“They are all legitimate spy tools – assuming that spying on foreign adversaries is legitimate -,” he said, since most of the CIA’s methods of piracy are simply “tricking us into installing their spy program.” “These are concentrated mechanisms” that can not be used to collect information “en masse”, but forces spies to “be precise” and aim at the device of a particular person, said Joseph Hall, a specialist the civil rights advocacy organization Center for Democracy and Technology.

According to him, the episode raises however the question about the veracity of the promise of the US government, who should warn the technology companies about the flaws discovered in their devices “so they could repair them and not drag them for years.” “There is nothing illegal” in what the WikiLeaks documents describe, “that’s exactly what the CIA is expected to do in cyberspace,” said Bruce Schneier, director of technology at IBM Resilient, who has criticized him regularly. government surveillance.

“The existence of these hacking tools is proof of the robustness of the encryption,” said Steve Bellovin, a computer scientist at Columbia University, in a blog post. Encryption “is difficult or impossible to break, so the CIA has to resort to costly and targeted attacks.”

Open Whisper Systems, the company that developed the encrypted instant messaging technology Signal, stressed on Twitter that all the documents disclosed by WikiLeaks showed systems that consisted of “introducing viruses into phones”. “None of the failures were found in Signal nor did they break Signal’s encryption protocol,” he said.

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