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Edward Snowden said WikiLeaks' massive leak of CIA hacking tools 'looks authentic'by Circa News
Privacy

UPDATE 2:00 p.m. EST:

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower currently on asylum in Russia, said that WikiLeaks' dump of CIA hacking tools "looks authentic," even though one tweet about its claims was misleading. 

Snowden said he still had a lot of research to do.

To him, the biggest reveal was that the government was hiding software vulnerabilities.

However, Snowden took issue with one WikiLeaks tweet that implied the CIA had cracked Signal, a secure encrypted messaging app. 

He clarified that the CIA had found ways to bypass that app's security by hacking the entire phone, which he argues is a bigger problem. 

WikiLeaks itself later clarified its stance.

Meanwhile, agency experts vouched for the leaks' authenticity.

ORIGINAL STORY: WikiLeaks revealed the first of what it claims are thousands of files that reveal the CIA's "global covert hacking program" which contains tools that can turn smartphones and smart TVs into hidden microphones.

The leak series, dubbed "Year Zero," claims to reveal files from within a CIA vault in Langley, Virginia. The CIA lost control of many of its cyber weapons in a recent breach, according to a WikiLeaks press release.  The archive of CIA tools was illegally circulated among former government hackers.

"This extraordinary collection ... gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA."

WikiLeaks press release

The dump include the CIA's "zero day" hacks into devices like iPhones, Android phones and Samsung smart TVs. "Zero day" refers to hacks executed using a vulnerability in the software that the software's creator isn't aware of. The term refers to how long a company knows about the weakness, according to Wired. 

WikiLeaks said the hacking arsenal had "more code than that used to run Facebook." Its source argued the CIA had created its own NSA, but with even less public oversight. 

"The source [of the leaks] wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons," the press release read. 

WikiLeaks argued the nature of cyberweapons, which can be easily replicated once used, made them inherently dangerous. 

One of the attacks involved setting a Samsung smart-TV to record audio, even when it appeared to be turned off. The CIA also had 24 different "zero day" attacks for Android phones.

The CIA reportedly "hoarded" zero-day hacks without disclosing that information, violating an Obama-era rule. 

It also unclassified many of its own systems and has relied on obfuscation to protect its military secrets, according to the release. 

In the past three years, many U.S. intelligence agencies have had data stolen by former employees. Most recently, Harold Martin III allegedly took 50,000 gigabytes of data from classified programs at the NSA and CIA, including hacking tool source code.

The CIA has also found vulnerabilities in communication apps once deemed secure.

WikiLeaks was even able to extract a highlight from a CIA GIF party.

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