WikiLeaks has released thousands of documents that it claims show how the Central Intelligence Agency can break into smartphones, computers and other connected devices, including smart TVs.
The trove, which WikiLeaks is dubbing “Vault 7”, purports to be a massive archive of CIA material consisting of several hundred million lines of computer code that has been “circulated among former US government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”
“This demonstrates conflicting challenges faced by the security developer community,” said Vikram Kapoor, co-founder and CTO at Lacework, a Mountain View, Calif. based provider of cloud security solutions, via email. “On one hand, this has scary implications for individual privacy rights and shows how extensively some of the systems can be hacked. On the other hand, it demonstrates how hard it is to manage security for insider risk and cloud workloads today for organizations.”
Most centrally, the documents show ways that the agency allegedly can hack mobile phones and can bypass the encryption used by messaging services like Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. After penetrating Android phones, the CIA can collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied,” WikiLeaks said.
He purported intelligence documents also include detailed information on CIA-developed malware—dubbed things like Assassin and Medusa. And, the documents point to an entire alleged unit in the CIA is devoted to hacking Apple products. Further, WikiLeaks alleges that the CIA is proven here to have deliberately failed to disclose security vulnerabilities and bugs to major US software manufacturers, choosing instead to leverage them for their own ends.
On a darker front, the documents claim that the CIA maintains remote hacking programs to turn various connected devices, including smart TVs, into recording and transmitting stations, with the feeds sent back to secret CIA servers.
Other capabilities “would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” WikiLeaks said. One document lays out actions that the CIA allegedly took to infiltrate and take over vehicle control systems in cars and trucks.
Read Wikileaks Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed