Everything you need to know about WikiLeaks’ CIA document dump

By

The CIA has a team of more than 5,000 hackers.
The CIA has a team of more than 5,000 hackers.
Photo: Brian Klug/Flickr CC

The entire hacking arsenal of the CIA has been dumped online and the entire internet is freaking out.

WikiLeaks dropped a data bomb Tuesday with its massive document dump, which it claims is one of the biggest in history. Secrets on how the CIA hacked devices made by Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft are now available for all to see. But should you start freaking out just yet?

Cult of Mac talked to a number of iOS security experts to make sense of all the new info. While it’s tempting to panic, there’s a lot more you need to know first.

WikiLeaks: CIA lost control of its iPhone hacking arsenal

By

Wikileaks'
Wikileaks' "Vault 7" data dump allegedly reveals CIA hacking tools used to compromise iPhones, Android phones and other devices.
Image: Gordon Johnson/Pixabay

The Central Intelligence Agency has been using malware to spy on iPhone and Android users, according to the largest-ever publication of confidential documents from WikiLeaks — and the spy tools are now in the hands of others.

As part of a covert hacking program, the CIA created a “malware arsenal” and dozens of “zero day exploits” to infiltrate smartphones, tablets and even smart TVs to extract data and turn them into covert microphones.

But the agency recently lost controls of these tools. Those who have obtained them now have “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA” at their disposal, according to WikiLeaks.

007 would Bond with these historic spy gadgets

By

A spring-wound 35mm camera concealed in a modified cigarette pack was an ideal spy tool.
A spring-wound 35mm camera concealed in a modified cigarette pack was an ideal spy tool.
Photo: International Spy Museum

Never mind that espionage is a dangerous line of work. The secret agent game promises plenty of intrigue and lots of fun spy gadgets.

 If I knew exactly what today’s tools of the trade are, someone would probably have to kill me. Politics and enemies change but spies’ needs are essentially timeless: Disguises and false papers maintains a cover, tracking and listening devices record movements and conversations, and small, secret cameras copy documents and photograph dubious characters.

A hidden weapon can get a spy out of a jam. A concealed cyanide pill — so the intensely devoted might say — beats interrogation.

We love our spy stories. It is why the James Bond film franchise endures, James Patterson sells books and there are spy museums from Prague to Washington, D.C. (where there are two). Here’s a less-than-clandestine peek into the shadowy spy gadgets that filled the world of espionage over the years.

CIA spends years trying to break Apple’s security

By

The CIA is gunning for Apple's security. Photo: Spy vs. Spy
The CIA is gunning for Apple's security. Photo: Spy vs. Spy

The CIA has been been involved in a multi-year effort to crack iOS security, according to new information provided to The Intercept by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The attempts have been the focal point of multiple yearly CIA conferences called “The Jamboree.”

Among the possible solutions proposed include a means of “whacking” Xcode, the software used to create apps for iOS and Macs. Researchers claimed they had discovered a means by which Xcode could be manipulated to allow devices to be infected, so as to allow for the extraction of private data — thereby creating a “remote backdoor” that would disable core security features and allow undetected access to Apple devices.

Do New Apple Engineers Really Have To Work On Fake Projects?

By

Apple-headquarters-Cupertino-Clifornia-exterior-001

There’s a belief that Apple makes new engineers work on fake products until they can be trusted. According one of the company’s former employees, Adam Lashinsky, who published the book Inside Apple last January, the Cupertino company hires people into so-called “dummy positions” until it’s confident that they can be a part of upcoming products without leaking information.

But how accurate are those claims? We know Apple takes secrecy very seriously, but would it really waste time and money on giving people fake projects just to ensure they won’t squeal?

Almost certainly not.