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CIA-Linked Hacking Tools Attributed To 40 Cyber Attacks By Symantec

CIA-Linked Hacking Tools Attributed To 40 Cyber Attacks By Symantec
The security researcher Symantec Corp said that the Web publisher Wikileaks has recently exposed the fact that top-secret hacking tools were used to give shape to past cyber attacks on scores of organizations around the world.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was likely behind most of the attacks, this data translates into.
For hacking into phones, computers and other electronic gear, along with programming code for some of them, internal CIA discussions of various tools were apparently shown in the files posted by WikiLeaks.
Though it followed company policy by not formally blaming the CIA, Symantec said it had connected at least 40 attacks in 16 countries to the tools obtained by WikiLeaks.
Whether the Wikileaks documents are genuine or not has not been confirmed by the CIA.
Any WikiLeaks disclosures aimed at damaging the intelligence community "not only jeopardize U.S. personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm,” said agency spokeswoman Heather Fritz Horniak.
"It is important to note that CIA is legally prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance targeting individuals here at home, including our fellow Americans, and CIA does not do so," Horniak said.
She declined to comment on the specifics of Symantec's research.
Symantec researcher Eric Chien said that all of the targets were government entities or had legitimate national security value for other reasons and the CIA tools described by Wikileaks do not involve mass surveillance.
Chien said that "there are organizations in there that people would be surprised were targets," in part because some of the targets are U.S. allies in Europe.
Financial, telecommunications, energy, aerospace, information technology, education, and natural resources are included in the sectors targeted by operations employing the tools, Symantec said.
Countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa were bit besides Europe. In what was likely an accident, one computer was infected in the United States.  The infection was removed within hours. Opening back doors, collect and remove copies of files, rather than to destroy anything were the aims of all the programs.
Chien said that at least as far back as 2011 and possibly as long ago as 2007 was the time when the eavesdropping tools were created. Including many taking advantage of previously unknown flaws, the Wikileaks papers likely encompass the CIA’s entire hacking toolkit, he said.
The human intelligence sources and analysis, not vast electronic operations, is what the CIA is best-known for. And hence it is just a setback and not a catastrophe for the CIA that it is being forced to build new tools.
And as more allies realize the Americans were spying and confront them, it could lead to awkward conversations.
Along with a blog post criticizing President Donald Trump for attacking Syria and moving away from his conservative political base, another batch of pilfered National Security Agency hacking tools was released separately by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers on Saturday.
It is unclear how the group obtained the files or who is behind the Shadow Brokers.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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