Google’s response to WikiLeaks’ CIA revelations: Updates ‘shield’ Android users

The reaction to revelations that the CIA can allegedly hack into our smartphones, TVs and other devices keeps rolling in, with Google being the latest to weigh in on the big security scandal.

According to a massive document dump by WikiLeaks this week, the CIA can hack into smartphones such as Androids and iPhones, among many other devices.

“As we’ve reviewed the documents, we’re confident that security updates and protections in both Chrome and Android already shield users from many of these alleged vulnerabilities,” Heather Adkins, director of information security and privacy, told USA Today.

Google is the parent of Android, but there are many manufacturers of the phones and devices that run the mobile operating system. When it comes to updates, Android users are usually at the mercy of the phone makers.

Google’s statement is similar to what Apple said Tuesday after news of the purported hacks first came out. The iPhone maker tried to reassure customers by saying its latest updates should have addressed the security vulnerabilities that the CIA may have exploited, although the documents didn’t detail those flaws.

However, WikiLeaks now says it will share what it knows about the CIA’s hacking tools with tech companies so the companies can plug those security holes.

“Considering what we think is the best way to proceed and hearing these calls from some of the manufacturers, we have decided to work with them to give them some exclusive access to the additional technical details that we have so that the fixes can be developed and pushed out, so people can be secure,” WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange said during a press conference Thursday.

It’s unclear how WikiLeaks will work with tech companies touched by the purported hacks. The other companies whose products and services were said to be affected include Cisco, Microsoft, Facebook’s WhatsApp, Samsung, Sony and HTC. Chinese networking and telecom company Huawei’s products were also said to be affected, which the Chinese aren’t happy about. Also mentioned in the leaked documents were unnamed security-software companies.

A CIA spokesman told Reuters: “As we’ve said previously, Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity.”

WikiLeaks’ early, high-profile leaks include a 2007 video of a U.S. airstrike in Iraqi that killed civilians. Recently, the site published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, and the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta.


Photo: A person dressed as the Android operating system mascot stands at Google headquarters in Mountain View, in 2013. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)


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