The CIA and the Trump administration declined to comment on the authenticity of the files Tuesday, but prior WikiLeaks releases divulged government secrets maintained by the State Department, Pentagon and other agencies that have since been acknowledged as genuine.
Some questions and answers about the latest WikiLeaks dump and its fallout:
Where do these documents come from?
WikiLeaks said the material came from “an isolated, high-security network” inside the CIA’s Centre for Cyber Intelligence, the spy agency’s internal arm that conducts cyber offence and defence. It said the documents were “circulated among former US government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.” It did not make it clear who was behind the leak, leaving several possibilities: espionage, a rogue employee, a theft involving a federal contractor or a break-in of a staging server.
How many files were leaked?
WikiLeaks said 7,818 web pages and 943 attachments were published, but were just the first part of more material to come. WikiLeaks said it has an entire archive of data consisting of several million lines of computer code. The documents appear to date between 2013 and 2016. WikiLeaks described them as “the largest-ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.”
Are these legitimate CIA documents?
A spokesman for the CIA said the agency would not comment “on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.” Trump administration spokesman Sean Spicer declined comment as well. But WikiLeaks has a long track record of assembling and releasing secret files from the US and other governments. Security experts who reviewed the material said the documents appeared to be authentic.
What do these documents contain?
The files describe CIA plans and descriptions of malware and other tools that could be used to hack into some of the world’s most popular technology platforms. The documents showed that the developers aimed to be able to inject these tools into targeted computers without the owners’ awareness.
The files do not describe who the prospective targets might be, but the documents show broad exchanges of tools and information between the CIA and National Security Agency and other federal intelligence agencies, as well as intelligence services of close allies Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.