Published: Wed, March 08, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Wikileaks releases details of CIA's global covert hacking program

Wikileaks releases details of CIA's global covert hacking program

WikiLeaks today published thousands of documents that it claims are from the CIA's arsenal of hacking and cyber-espionage tools, calling this leak the "largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency".

A total of 8,761 documents have been published as part of "Year Zero", the first in a series of leaks the whistleblower organization has dubbed 'Vault 7'.

The WikiLeaks documents, which it said span a period from 2013 to 2016, reveal an arsenal of malware and dozens of "zero day" exploits against a wide range of products, including Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung smart televisions, which are turned into covert microphones.

Wikileaks says numerous hacking tools described in Vault 7 were made unclassified to skirt rules on posting classified information to the internet-most of the CIA's malware requires the use of the internet for communication.

WikiLeaks claimed that a vast trove of Central Intelligence Agency documents representing "the majority of its hacking arsenal" had been leaked within the cyber security community - and that it had received, and released, a part of them.

The collection of intelligence reveals tools such as CIA-developed malware, named things such as "Assassin" and "Medusa" that are meant to target iPhones, Android phones, smart TVs, and Microsoft, Mac, and Linux operating systems among others.

Wikileaks says it has elected not to release the actual code for the CIA's malware and cyberweapons "until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA's program and how such "weapons" should analyzed, disarmed and published".

Critics have blasted WikiLeaks in recent months for broadcasting what they deemed to be politically charged disinformation during the recent US presidential election, and for publishing hacked documents allegedly stolen by Russian agents. Once a phone is hacked, the agency can allegedly intercept and the audio and messages "before the encryption is applied".

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The agency will neither confirm nor deny the veracity of the WikiLeaks claim.

A programme called Weeping Angel describes how to attack a Samsung F800 TV set so that it appears to be off but can still be used for monitoring. Wikileaks claims it has never released a false document.

Smart TVs aren't the only commonly used devices that may have a potentially more-sinister objective. The U.K. Home Office, which is implicated in the dump for allegedly creating malware that targets smart TVs, has also declined to comment.

In a statement to CBS News, CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu said, "We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents".

Former CIA operative and whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who is now in exile in Russian Federation, has tweeted that the claims by WikiLeaks were legitimate.

An intelligence expert who examined the dump, Rendition Infosec founder Jake Williams, told news agency Associated Press the documents appeared legitimate.

This is a developing story.

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