WikiLeaks releases 8,700+ CIA-related documents, show agency efforts towards hacking Android systems, iPhones, operating systems and smart TVs
Date: Wednesday, March 8th, 2017, 05:43
Category: Android, Google, Hack, Hardware, iOS, iPhone, macOS, News, privacy, Samsung, security
This is pretty much one for the ages.
WikiLeaks has released more than 8,700 documents that have apparently originated from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, with some of the leaks saying the agency had 24 “weaponized” and previously undisclosed exploits for the Android operating system as of 2016.
Some of the Android-specific exploits were developed by the CIA, while others hailed from the U.S. National Security Agency, U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ, and cyber arms dealers.
Among the smartphone-related tools developed by the CIA were assets that allow the agency to bypass encryption found in WhatsApp, Confide and other applications known to use encryption. These tools, according to WikiLeaks analysis, capture audio and message traffic before encryption has a chance to be applied.
The leaked documents also show the CIA “hoarding” undisclosed, or zero-day, exploits for a number of systems, despite promises from former President Barack Obama’s administration to share the vulnerabilities with vendors.
So far, the CIA has yet to comment as to the authenticity of the leaks. The documents range from the years 2013 to 2016 and amount to the “largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency” and the “entire hacking capacity of the CIA,” according to the WikiLeaks site.
Among the documents released are descriptions as to how the CIA used malware and hacking tools to target iPhone, smart television sets, Windows, OS X, Linux and wireless routers.
Interestingly, the CIA has created a specialized unit in place within the Mobile Development Branch that creates and executes malware to infiltrate, take control of, and exfiltrate sensitive information from iOS products. The MDB’s methods are said to include a collection of zero day exploits, which are vulnerabilities in a piece of software unknown by the software’s creator and subsequently exploitable by hackers.
One attack, called Weeping Angel, targets Samsung smart TVs and was developed by the CIA and the U.K.’s MI5.
Within the leaked documents is a description of the Weeping Angel attack, wherein a target TV is set to a “fake-off” mode. Once in this mode, the TV set can be used as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the internet to a CIA server.
In late 2014, the CIA was also looking for ways to infect vehicle software systems, according to one document.
The CIA unit’s cyber weapons could create serious problems if the agency loses control of them, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said in a press release.
Samsung and Google have yet to reply to queries as to potential CIA-based attacks against their products.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.