When a piece of unprecedented malicious software rampages through thousands of critical networks around the world, it tends to get our full attention. And this week's digital plague, known as Petya (or NotPetya or Nyetya) proved especially vicious. It paralyzed thousands of computers, including those of Ukrainian government agencies, transportation infrastructure, and companies, as well as international targets including Danish shipping firm Maersk and US pharmaceutical giant Merck. It avoided the mistakes made by the hackers behind the last global ransomware outbreak known as WannaCry, skipping the sort of "kill-switch" that neutered that earlier ransomware crisis. And some researchers are starting to believe it may have been just another offensive in Ukraine's long-running cyberwar with Russia, though this time with collateral damage felt around the world.
SAN FRANCISCO – Apple said late Thursday it had patched years ago any of the alleged CIA hacks to its iPhone and Mac released by WikiLeaks earlier in the day and that it has "not negotiated with Wikileaks for any information." "We have preliminarily assessed the Wikileaks disclosures from this morning. Based on our initial analysis, the alleged iPhone vulnerability affected iPhone 3G only and was fixed in 2009 when iPhone 3GS was released," the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. "Additionally, our preliminary assessment shows the alleged Mac vulnerabilities were previously fixed in all Macs launched after 2013." Leaks website WikiLeaks early Thursday released new documents it claims are from the Central Intelligence Agency which show the CIA had the capability to bug iPhones even if their operating systems have been deleted and replaced.
Apple said purported hacking vulnerabilities disclosed by WikiLeaks this week have all been fixed in recent iPhones and Mac computers. The documents released by the anti-secrecy site Thursday morning pointed to an apparent CIA program to hack Apple devices using techniques that users couldn't disable by resetting their devices. The iPhone hack was limited to the 3G model from 2008. In a statement late Thursday, Apple said the flaw was fixed with the release of the iPhone 3GS a year later. Apple also said the Mac vulnerabilities were all fixed in all Macs launched after 2013.
WikiLeaks denied Sunday its release of CIA hacking tools was outdated and insisted many of the #Vault7 tools are from last year. WikiLeaks tweeted claims the hacking tools will not work on newer Apple products are false. WikiLeaks has been slowly releasing the CIA hacking tools, created to spy on people through smart televisions, smartphones and other household technological devices. The leaked documents explain how the spy agency allegedly used malware and physical hacking. The CIA has not commented on the authenticity of the documents but has said it does not target individuals in the United States.
Technology doesn't just change the world -- it runs it. In 2016, the algorithms, networks and slabs of glass and metal that make up today's digital tools had a direct impact on our lives in some very unexpected ways. From Facebook's fake news problem to the Galaxy Note7 literally exploding, that impact wasn't always for the good, but there were also signs of hope thanks to the promise of virtual reality and driverless cars. Apple's annual iPhone launch always hits the mobile world like a shiny glass meteor, but the new iPhone 7 had an aftershock that will be felt for years: the removal of the headphone jack. Despite being a near-universal standard used in devices worldwide, the eminently functional 3.5mm jack couldn't survive Apple's determination to shape the future -- one where audio is wireless.