Posted on June 17, 2020 at 2:39 PM
A new report revealed that the theft of a top CIA sophisticated hacking tools occurred because of poor security measures. The report revealed that the CIA did not do their best to protect its operations and the agency didn’t respond swiftly when the secrets were stolen.
A security task force found out that the agency could have provided better security to protect the hacking tools which were stolen during a heavy breach and given to WikiLeaks.
It was alleged that the leak was orchestrated by a former CIA employee in 2016, but the leak was discovered a year later when anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks published details of the breach.
The breach exposed top agency secretes
WikiLeak called the breach “Vault.7,” as U.S. officials confirmed it’s the largest data lost in the History of the agency.
The breach affected the CIA’s network as it was made to shut down some intelligence operations and alerted foreign foes to the agency’s spying techniques.
Vault 7 exposed a series of some of the most heavily guarded secrets of the CIA, including some of the agency’s hacking operations.
The content of the breach included attacks that compromised Macs and simple command lines the CIA agents were using to hack network switches from Cisco. It also included information about a hacking group the agency has been tracking since 2011.
Lax in security
CIA officials later called on the WikiLeaks Task Force to investigate the causes of the heavy data leak. Seven months after they were assigned, the task force came with a report on the cause and impact of the damage.
The major finding in the report was the culture within the CIA hacking platform referred to as the Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI). The intelligence group paid less attention to the security of cyber capabilities and focused more on its proliferation.
The report revealed that the daily security lax has become appalling. “Day-to-day security practices had become woefully lax,” the report stated on Monday.
The report explained that the CCI prioritized the building of cyberweapons without showing much effort in the security of its data spying tools. The shortcomings are a result of a long-standing behavior to prioritize collaboration and creativity over security. The wrong choice of priority was what led to the biggest data theft in the history of the agency, the report continued.
Multiple errors led to successful data theft
The task force revealed that the security porosity of the system’s design was one of a multiple of CIA failures which led to the leak. However, it revealed there were other errors as well.
One of the mistakes is the failure to act swiftly on warning signs that someone in possession of CIA classified information will pose a great risk to the agency and national security.
The agency also failed to empower an officer to spearhead the security of all agency information systems throughout their life cycles.
Yesterday, US Senator Ron Widen sent a letter that contained the redacted report. The report was received by CIA’s director of national intelligence, John Ractliffe.
He said the reported lax in CIA’s security reported by WikiLeaks appears not to come from only a single intelligence agency. He further questioned why the US authorities are not mandating security measures such as MDMARC email identification validation and two-factor authentication for US-generated networks.
A former CIA agent accused of the theft
In 2018, Joshua Adam Schulte, a former CIA employee was indicted for leaking the Vault 7 data.
He pleaded not guilty in his trial, as his defense attorneys said the poor security practice by the CIA could allow any employee to get a hold of important data, and many officers could have leaked the Vault 7 data.
The jury on Schelte’s trial was not able to reach a verdict on his case
The report revealed that a CIA employee responsible for the Vault 7 leak stole about 180 GB of data. But the task force stated that the stolen data could be more than that, he could have stolen as much as 34TB of data.