WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have released a new set of documents that detail the wide-ranging access the CIA has to hacking tools, including ones that are designed to infiltrate every app and message on your phone.
- Thousands of apparently legitimate documents have been released.
- The CIA can bypass encrypted apps like Signal and WhatsApp.
- Low-security devices such as smart TVs also targeted, along with computers and phones.
- Source of documents has not been named.
The new data dump called “Vault 7” by Wikileaks includes 8,761 documents and files from an “isolated, high-security network” within the CIA’s offices in Virginia. This would be the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.
WikiLeaks have been accused of cooperating with Russian hackers in the 2016 election helping Trump and destabilising America’s democracy, but the organisation claims that Vault 7 has 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.”
WikiLeaks said the source, in a statement, set out policy questions that “urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the C.I.A.’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency.” The source, the group said, “wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”
Are they legitimate?
So far, analysts are saying the documents appear to be authentic. Edward Snowden, the infamous NSA whistleblower agreed.
What makes this look real?
Program & office names, such as the JQJ (IOC) crypt series, are real. Only a cleared insider could know them.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 7, 2017
But a C.I.A. spokesman, Dean Boyd, said as usual, “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”
What do they reveal?
The documents are dated from 2013 through to 2016 and detail a wide variety of cyber-surveillance and hacking programs, including the CIA’s Engineering Development Group building malware specifically designed to target Android and iOS devices circumventing encrypted messages in apps like Signal and WhatsApp.
Another CIA initiative appears to target devices with weak security standards like smart televisions. “Weeping Angels” manipulates TV remotes to cause the system to appear off when it’s really on, converting the into covert listening devices.
@HAGOODMANAUTHOR Thanks Wikileaks for proving that when I yell at the TV they DO hear me.
— Helen Ford (@HelenFo00052002) March 7, 2017
Privacy advocates have stressed that the CIA hasn’t compromised individual services such as WhatsApp, but instead they can break into your phone and access the encrypted services directly, collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.
If the CIA et al hack your phone, you’re done. Signal, (and anything else) is not safe. Report doesn’t say Signal, as an app, compromised.
— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) March 7, 2017
If anyone still has doubts that Wikileaks and the Russians are working together to undermine and destabilize America’s government institutions, erode public confidence in the government, and generally wreak havoc in the US, this latest document dump should erase all doubt. The US is under attack by an adversarial nation, with a President here at the helm who seems not to take any of this seriously.
Spy agencies spy, this should come as no shock — this is how they infiltrate potential terrorist plots against America and keep us safe. But we are less safe today thanks to Wikileaks and Assange’s unholy alliance with Putin.
Why isn’t Wikileaks doing something similar with the really no-nonsense authoritarian regimes out there like China, Russia, Turkey, et al? For that matter, why aren’t they doing something similar with Britain, France, South Korea? Is the US the only nation-state whose abuse of power needs to be unmasked? Doesn’t that just leave the US more vulnerable than the others?
Bring it on worldwide, Julian. Stop playing favourites. Do more than just trying to get even with America.