Wikileaks details CIA's iPhone hacks - Here's Apple's response

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Apple sales assistant with an Apple iPhone 6
A sales assistant shows features of iOS 9 on an Apple iPhone 6 at an Apple reseller shop in Bangkok, September 18, 2015. Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

Dark Matter, the latest documents from WikiLeaks' Vault 7, claims that factory fresh iPhones have been bugged by the CIA since 2008. The information affirms that the government agency created a malware designed to maneuver past Apple's security mechanisms. 

The dump revealed the manuals for implants and rootkits that can be embedded at the most hidden level of the Apple system. The Dark Matter release says that the CIA's Embedded Development Branch (EDB) developed various techniques to infect Apple Mac and iPhone firmware. 

The March 23, 2017 WikiLeaks release details three strategies, the Sonic Screwdriver, the DarkSeaSkies, and the NightSkies 1.2. The WikiLeaks claims that the documents are from the CIA and detail surveillance systems that go back to 2008, a year after the iPhone was first introduced. However, USA Today notes that it is unclear if the strategies are still functional. 

Apple responds to the WikiLeaks findings

Responding to the leaked documents, Apple has issued a statement via Tech Crunch that the vulnerabilities outlined have already been addressed. The Cupertino company says that the CIA's strategies only affected the older iPhone 3G, which has already been patched as early as 2009. Further, the Mac vulnerabilities were already fixed in devices launched after 2013. 

Apple added: "We have not negotiated with Wikileaks for any information. We have given them instructions to submit any information they wish through our normal process under our standard terms. Thus far, we have not received any information from them that isn’t in the public domain. We are tireless defenders of our users’ security and privacy, but we do not condone theft or coordinate with those that threaten to harm our users."





According to a statement issued on March 8, the CIA said it had no comment on the authenticity of the alleged intelligence documents of WikiLeaks along with any investigation as to the source of the said information. 

The CIA further added that the agency is prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance within the country. In addition, it categorically denied that the agency does anything along those lines, noted USA Today

How to protect yourself

Apple has assured its customers that devices are safe from the CIA strategies revealed via WikiLeaks. However, in order to protect yourself, here are some things you can do:

  1. Always update your devices to the latest version to get all the latest security fixes.
  2. Use a strong password with a mix of symbols, characters and lower and upper case letters.
  3. Update your device by air to minimize cable connection to iTunes.
  4. Always keep your device on you at all times and utilize the latest security measures like TouchID.