Apple’s WiFi routers left off CIA’s Cherry Blossom list of hackable equipment

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Date: Monday, June 19th, 2017, 05:24
Category: Apple, Hack, Hardware, News, wireless

At least this will make you feel better about your AirPort router.

Per a series of recently-published documents from WikiLeaks, the CIA has has has apparently been hacking WiFi routers for years to secretly spy on Americans’ internet activity, but Apple’s AirPort Base Stations aren’t on the list. Plenty of other popular basestations are, however, which means the public, home, and business WiFi networks you use could’ve been surveillance targets.

Reports surrounding the CIA’s tool kit used to monitor Internet activity passing through WiFi routers, known as “Cherry Blossom,” mention a variety of hackable router models. Manufacturers of these devices include 3Com, Aironet/Cisco, Asustek, Belkin, Buffalo, D-Link, Linksys, Netgear, US Robotics, and more. Apple’s AirPort Base Station lineup is not mentioned on this list.


Apparently once a device makes it onto the Cherry Blossom list, it’s easy for the CIA to maintain its hacked state even after firmware updates. Even so, this doesn’t necessarily mean every bit of data passing through your home WiFi router is being watched by the CIA.

Based on a leaked Cherry Blossom device spreadsheet, the CIA was targeting WiFi routers that supported the 802.11a/b/g standards. Since their efforts predate 802.11n and 802.11ac, it’s possible more modern routers aren’t susceptible to the exploit. Newer models aren’t likely off the hook because it’s a safe bet the CIA has a newer set of tools to target those.

The lack of a specific mention on the Cherry Blossom list could imply that Apple hasn’t built a product that was susceptible to the CIA’s hacks. If so, this could speak well of Apple’s security efforts.

On the other hand, it could also imply that the AirPort router line may be targeted in a different surveillance campaign that has yet to be leaked.

Hopefully WiFi router makers will take this leak as a wakeup call and work harder to improve security in their products. And if you’re hoping this will convince Apple to bring back its AirPort Base Stations, Apple’s has left that game and isn’t going back.

Via The Mac Observer and WikiLeaks

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