The Guardian March 7, 2017
WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing website run by Julian Assange, has released a cache of documents it calls “Vault 7”, which contains details of hacking tools used by the CIA.
What is in ‘Vault 7’?
WikiLeaks said 7,818 web pages and 943 attachments were published, but were just the first part of more material to come. WikiLeaks said it has an entire archive of data consisting of several million lines of computer code. The documents appear to date between 2013 and 2016. WikiLeaks described them as “the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency”.
The files describe CIA plans and descriptions of malware and other tools that could be used to hack into some of the world’s most popular technology platforms. The documents showed that the developers aimed to be able to inject these tools into targeted computers without the owners’ awareness.
The files do not describe who the prospective targets might be, but the documents show broad exchanges of tools and information between the CIA, the National Security Agency and other US federal intelligence agencies, as well as intelligence services of close allies Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
What does this mean the CIA can do?
A broad range of devices are targeted by the agency. A lot of attention is focused on breaking into general-purpose computing devices, including PCs and smartphones, with malware that affects iOS and Android phones referred to in the text, as well as Windows and Linux computers.
The tools described would allow the CIA to take almost complete remote control of a user’s phone, turning it into a complete spying device reporting back to the agency. But it would only do so on the most important targets, since each time the agency uses the malware, it runs the risk of being discovered, prompting manufacturers to release a fix to prevent future attacks from succeeding.
Exactly that happened in August 2016, when Apple issued a global iOS update after three attacks implemented to try and break into the iPhone of an Arab human rights activist were discovered.
The documents also include discussions about compromising some internet-connected Samsung televisions to turn them into listening posts. That hack, like many others, would only work in an extremely targeted manner: it requires physical access to the TV in question, since the malware is loaded via a USB port.
One other document discusses hacking vehicle systems, appearing to indicate the CIA’s interest in hacking recent-model cars with sophisticated onboard computer systems. READ it HERE
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