Contractors likely breached security and handed over documents describing the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of hacking tools to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials told Reuters on Wednesday, March 8.
Two officials speaking on condition of anonymity said intelligence agencies have been aware since the end of last year of the breach, which led to WikiLeaks releasing thousands of pages of information on its website on Tuesday.
According to the documents, CIA hackers could get into Apple Inc iPhones, devices running Google’s Android software and other gadgets in order to capture text and voice messages before they were encrypted with sophisticated software.
The White House said on Wednesday that President Donald Trump was “extremely concerned” about the CIA security breach that led to the WikiLeaks release.
“Anybody who leaks classified information will be held to the highest degree of law,” spokesman Sean Spicer said.
The two officials told Reuters they believed the published documents about CIA hacking techniques used between 2013 and 2016 were authentic.
One of the officials with knowledge of the investigation said companies that are contractors for the CIA have been checking to see which of their employees had access to the material that WikiLeaks published, and then going over their computer logs, emails and other communications for any evidence of who might be responsible.
On Tuesday in a press release, WikiLeaks itself said the CIA had “lost control” of an archive of hacking methods and it appeared to have been circulated “among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”
The CIA, which is the United States’ civilian foreign intelligence service, declined to comment on the authenticity of purported intelligence documents.
The agency said in a statement that its mission was to collect foreign intelligence abroad “to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries” and to be “innovative, cutting-edge, and the first line of defense in protecting this country from enemies abroad.”
The CIA is legally prohibited from surveillance inside the United States and “does not do so”, the statement added.