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The CIA seal is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Between 2009 and 2013, Iran compromised a CIA system used to talk to operatives in Iran by using Google to identify the websites that concealed communications, according to Yahoo News' Zach Dorfman and Jenna McLaughlin.

The big picture: We already knew a similar system was uncovered by the Chinese around the same time, possibly due to alleged double agent Jerry Lee. It's unclear if the Iranian and Chinese compromises involved any collaboration.

In 2009, Iran was roiled to find that the U.S. had discovered internal secrets about its nuclear program. According to the Yahoo News piece, the country launched a mole hunt.

  • After discovering a first website used to hide messages, possibly by planting its own agent into the CIA network, Iranian intelligence Googled markers from that site to find other similar sites.
  • That technique is known to hackers as "Google dorking."
  • In May 2011, Iran claimed to have broken up a ring of 30 CIA spies, an apparent consequence of breaking into the communications.

Before Iran discovered the communications platform, a contractor named John Reidy may have reported these and other vulnerabilities in the communications platform to the CIA, per Yahoo.

  • Reidy did not talk to Yahoo for the story; his name was mentioned by other sources.
  • Reidy, who was later reassigned, asked the CIA Inspector General to look into his reassignment in 2014 as retaliation for notifying the agency of vulnerabilities in CIA systems. That was first reported by McClatchy. But a heavily redacted complaint makes it tough to tell if those vulnerabilities are linked to this case.

The CIA updated its communications to protect sources in 2013.

What they're saying: “When these types of compromises happen, it’s so dark and bad,” said one former official interviewed for the story. “They can burrow in. It never really ends."

  • "You start thinking twice about people, from China to Russia to Iran to North Korea,” said another.

Go deeper

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution could bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Apple's quarterly sales top $100 billion for first time

Credit: Apple

Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple reported it took in a record $111 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, as the company crushed expectations.

Why it matters: The move showed even a pandemic didn't dull demand for Apple's latest smartphones.

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