On Tuesday, WikiLeaks dropped a massive amount of documents that detail the CIA’s extensive database of hacking tools that could turn your iPhone, Android Phone, or even smart TV into a covert intelligence gathering device.
The leaks, called “Vault 7,” are comprised of over 8,000 documents and files taken from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI). The documents detail millions of lines of code amounting to over a thousand pieces of “weaponized” software.
The documents show that the CIA had developed methods of remotely hacking a wide range of smart devices that could identify the user’s exact location, listen in on calls and texts, as well as turn the device into a covert camera or microphone. Ring of Fire’s Sydney Robinson published an article on Tuesday detailing the CIA’s hack of Samsung TVs:
“A CIA program called “Weeping Angel” reportedly handed access to Samsung Smart TVs to the CIA’s hackers, enabling them to use the televisions as a listening device even when the TV appeared to be in off-mode.”
“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”
The spy agency had also developed a series of standards to fool forensic investigators and anti-virus measures. These standards included using ‘stolen’ software from the Russian Federation, to make a cyber-attack appear to originate from Russia.
The efforts documented in “Vault 7” span from 2013 to 2016, a time in which the WikiLeaks press release says that:
“The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.”
According to WikiLeaks, their source detailed concern over the proliferation of weaponized software. Citing a lack of oversight and a need for increased debate about cyber-weapons, the source wanted to get the CIA information out to the public urgently. The existence of the “Vault 7” leak has been rumored in online chat rooms for at least a month.
Without naming their source, WikiLeaks stated in their release that,
“the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal [… which 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.”
In a departure from their normal releases, WikiLeaks redacted names associated with the software, possibly targeted IP addresses, and any code that could lead to “accidental invocation of CIA malware infected binaries.” In the past, the organization has been accused of releasing harmful information without regard to the ramifications.
The WikiLeaks press release quoted their editor Julian Assange as saying that,
“[t]here is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of [these CIA programs] goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”
While the CIA predictably would not comment on the leaks, several experts have been cited by the press as vouching for the authenticity of the documents.
This is just another sign that the spy agencies operate without appropriate oversight. The violation of privacy cast upon Americans by their government has grown exponentially under Presidents Bush and Obama. With no accountability and no regard for the rule of law, the NSA, CIA, and FBI are all working to preserve their own political agenda. These spy agencies do not want to see world powers engaged in diplomacy. They want to create conflict, so that they can continue to justify bloated budgets, while they violate the rights of American citizens, instead of focusing on real threats to national security.