Investigators believe the March leak of classified CIA material by WikiLeaks was an inside job, CBS reports. The intelligence agency has not said when the material was taken and given to WikiLeaks, nor has it provided any information officially on how the thousands of classified documents were stolen. The disclosure by WikiLeaks, which outlines the extent of the CIA’s hacking capabilities, is considered one of the most damaging in the agency’s history; it is also now considered to be the work of an employee or contractor at the intelligence agency with physical access to the material.
“Much of the material was classified and stored in a highly secure section of the intelligence agency, but sources say hundreds of people would have had access to the material,” according to CBS News. “WikiLeaks has said it obtained the CIA information from former contractors who worked for U.S. intelligence.”
On the heels of Russian cyber-meddling in the election, including the hacking of emails attributed to Russian state actors, the leak of thousands of technical documents that function as manuals for CIA penetration of a wide range of electronics is considered not just embarrassing, but potentially far more damaging. “Read as a whole, the documents serve as a how-to guide for hackers of all stripes—as well as for tech-savvy targets of hackers, including criminals, terrorists, and foreign agents,” Slate’s Fred Kaplan wrote in March. “[The] WikiLeaks release exposing thousands of detailed documents on CIA hacking tools is an unbridled attack on U.S. intelligence operations with little or no public benefit.”