CIA’s ‘weak’ websites led to capture execution of assets in Iran, China: Report

A flaw in the ‘covert’ websites of the Central Intelligence Agency compromised the US spy agency’s assets in countries like Iran and China, according to a report by security researchers. The researchers claimed that the internet security flaw led to the deaths of more than two dozen US assets in China in 2011 and 2012 while other assets in Iran were either executed or imprisoned by the regime. The research carried out by security experts at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab also said that the flaw could have been detected by an amateur sleuth, British website The Guardian reported. The security experts began probe following a tip from a Reuters journalist.

Joel Schectmann, the Reuters journalist had reportedly tipped the research group about a CIA asset in Iran who had been captured and later served seven years in prison after using the ‘fatally insecure network’. In 2018, two Yahoo News reporters first reported that a system used by the agency to communicate with its assets had been compromised by Iran and China.

However, the researchers said it was not publishing the full report as a move to avoid putting more CIA assets at risk. But the revelations have led to the agency’s handling of digital safety measures to come under scanner. According to the report, at least 885 websites were identified to have been used by the CIA. They were purportedly websites concerned with news, healthcare, weather etc.

The researcher group said an amateur sleuth could have mapped the entire CIA network and attributed to the US administration. According the report, these websites were active between 2004 and 2013. They were not used by the agency recently but a subset of these websites were still linked to the active employees or assets.

Calling out the ‘reckless construction’ of the infrastructure of CIA, the Citizen Lan claimed that the loophole led to the identification and the execution of the agency assets, while risking the lives of countless other individuals linked to it.

A spokesperson of the CIA said the agency takes it obligations to protect the people work with it extremely…