The CIA developed tools to spy on Mac computers by injecting software into the chips that control the computers’ fundamental operations, the latest cache of classified government documents published on Thursday by WikiLeaks showed.
Apple said in a statement that its preliminary assessment of the leaked information indicated that the Mac vulnerabilities described in the disclosure were previously fixed in all Macs launched after 2013.
However, the documents also indicated that the CIA was developing a new version of one tool last year to work with current software.
The leaked documents were the second batch recently released by WikiLeaks, which said it obtained a hoard of information on the agency’s cyberweapons programs from a former government worker or contractor.
The first group of documents, published on March 7, suggested that the CIA had found ways to hack Apple iPhones and Android smartphones, Microsoft Windows computers, Cisco routers and Samsung smart televisions.
Since the initial release of the CIA documents, which the agency has not confirmed are authentic, major technology companies have been scrambling to assess whether the security holes exploited by the CIA still exist and to patch them if they do.
WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange has offered to share the precise software code used by the CIA’s cyberweapons with the affected companies, but major tech companies have been reluctant to directly engage with him for fear of violating US laws governing the receipt of classified information.
At a news conference on Thursday, Assange criticized the government policies that restricted such communications, but said that Apple had nonetheless been willing to work with representatives of his anti-secrecy organization.
Google and Microsoft had simply pointed WikiLeaks to its existing channels for anyone to report a security flaw, he said.
Apple denied negotiating with WikiLeaks.
“We have given them instructions to submit any information they wish through our normal process under our standard terms,” the company said.
“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,” it said.
Although many of the tools targeted outdated versions of the Apple devices’ software, the CIA’s general approach raises new security concerns for the industry, said Eric Ahlm, who studies cybersecurity at research company Gartner.
By rewriting the most basic software of a computer or a telephone, tools that operate at the chip level can hide their existence and avoid being wiped out by routine software updates.
Under an agreement struck during the administration of former US president Barack Obama, intelligence agencies were supposed to share their knowledge of most security vulnerabilities with tech companies so they could be fixed. The CIA documents suggest that some key vulnerabilities were kept secret for the government’s use.
The CIA declined to comment, pointing reporters to its earlier statement about the leaks, in which it defended its use of “innovative, cutting-edge” techniques to protect the nation from foreign threats and criticized WikiLeaks for sharing information that could help the country’s enemies.
‘BIG LOSS’: This year might see the last generation of Huawei’s Kirin chips, as their production would stop next month because they are made using US technology Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to US sanctions and would be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive has said, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from US pressure. Huawei, one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the center of US-Chinese tension over technology and security. Washington last year cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology, and those penalties were tightened in May, when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using US
’WHITE BOX’: The open platform would give local firms access to Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop 5G telecom equipment and tap into the global market The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday introduced a new 5G “open lab” in collaboration with US-based information technology and networking giant Cisco Systems Inc to address the rapidly growing “white box” 5G networking equipment market. The open lab will be a platform where Taiwanese manufacturers can access Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop their own 5G telecom equipment, such as small-cell base stations, network switches, modems and Internet of things (IoT) devices, a ministry statement said. The open platform would allow Taiwanese manufacturers to tap into the lucrative 5G telecom equipment market, which was previously monopolized by Nokia Oyj, Ericsson AB
CORPORATE SCANDAL: Cathay Life has invested NT$13.3 billion in Bank Mayapada since 2015, but the latest loss of NT$8.8 billion has completely written off its investment Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽) yesterday said it would recognize an investment loss of NT$8.8 billion (US$298.1 million) in Indonesia’s Bank Mayapada Internasional Tbk PT due to concerns about the lender’s operations amid a corporate scandal. The company said it would revise its earnings result for June, from a net profit of NT$6.52 billion to a net loss of NT$520 million, its first monthly loss over the past 17 months. After booking an investment loss of NT$5.2 billion in Bank Mayapada earlier this year, Cathay Life has so far recognized total investment losses of NT$14 billion in the lender, executive vice president
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday reported that revenue last month expanded 25 percent annually, but fell 12.8 percent month-on-month to NT$105.96 billion (US$3.59 billion). In the first seven months of this year, the chipmaker’s revenue surged 33.6 percent to NT$727.26 billion, compared with NT$544.46 billion a year earlier. TSMC has said it aims to grow its revenue by more than 20 percent this year. The company has since May 15 stopped taking new orders from Huawei Technologies Co (華為), its second-biggest customer after Apple Inc, due to the US’ restrictions on exports containing US technologies. TSMC has no plans to