Wikileaks has released documents that appear to show that not only was the Central Intelligence Agency actively using software exploits in Apple iPhones, Google Android phones, all Microsoft Windows devices and even certain brands of smart TVs, but they also appear to have lost control of the software used to do so.
The release from Wikileaks, their biggest release since the 2016 United States Presidential Election, shows that the Central Intelligence Agency has been running a domestic spying and hacking operation that seemingly dwarfs the previous NSA warrant-less wiretap programs that dominated the news cycle over the last 18 months.
If true, this is the largest wholesale operation to spy on American citizens by the American government. The documents allege that the CIA is capable of, and regularly does, use “smart” devices to eavesdrop on the conversations of American citizens on US soil.
Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have 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.
“Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.
By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other ‘weaponized’ malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook.
The documents say that specifically, Samsung smart TVs, can be hacked to be placed in a “fake off” mode in which the television appears to be turned off, but is actually recording and transmitting everything within recording distance to covert servers.
It is also clear that the CIA has lost control over some or all of its hacking tools which could mean that the attacks carried out on the United States government along with major companies could be using CIA made software.
NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden took to Twitter to weigh in. He says the claims look authenticate:
Snowden then pointed out possibly the most disturbing point of the release:
Besides Snowden, several other former intelligence community analysts have come forward to say the documents appear to be authentic. The CIA, in normal fashion, refused to comment on the existence of the documents at all.