WikiLeaks released thousands of documents that it said described sophisticated software tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions.
The release included 8,761 documents that it claimed revealed details of “malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized ‘zero day’ exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.”
“If the documents are authentic, as appeared likely at first review, the release would be the latest coup for the anti-secrecy organization and a serious blow to the C.I.A., which maintains its own hacking capabilities to be used for espionage,” underlines the New York Times .
The initial release, which WikiLeaks said was only the first part of the document collection, included 7,818 web pages with 943 attachments, the group said. The entire archive of C.I.A. material consists of several hundred million lines of computer code, it said.
Among other disclosures that, if confirmed, would rock the technology world, the WikiLeaks release said that the C.I.A. and allied intelligence services had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 7, 2017
According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”
The source of the documents was not named. WikiLeaks said it was given the files by an anonymous source who wanted to shed public light on the hacking programs.
WikiLeaks said also the documents, which it called Vault 7, had been “circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”
The documents are dated from 2013 to 2016.
According to the WikiLeaks press release:
- The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques developed by the CIA’s infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones.
- As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks.
- Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.
- The techniques permit to bypass the encryption by hacking the “smart” phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.
- The malware targets also Windows, OSx, Linux and routers.
Citing part of the WikiLeaks documents, Deutsche Welle has an article with the title Frankfurt was used as remote hacking base for the CIA
WikiLeaks documents reveal CIA agents were given cover identities and diplomatic passports to enter the country. The base was used to develop hacking tools as part of the CIA’s massive digital arsenal.
The leaks purportedly revealed that a top secret CIA unit used the German city of Frankfurt am Main as the starting point for numerous hacking attacks on Europe, China and the Middle East.