WikiLeaks has struck again, this time exposing the CIA in a document dump said to be bigger and more substantial than anything regarding the National Security Agency leaked by Edward Snowden through WikiLeaks in 2013.
According to The Wall Street Journal, WikiLeaks published on Tuesday thousands of documents and files from the CIA that purported to expose a variety of tools the agency has used to hack computers, encrypted messaging apps and other devices like smartphones and smart TVs.
The files, referred to cryptically as “Vault 7” and described as the “largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency,” were said to have come from an internal CIA whistleblower. The files dated from 2013 to 2016.
Aforementioned leaker Edward Snowden took to Twitter to write: “Still working through the publication, but what Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic.”
Still working through the publication, but what @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 7, 2017
The U.K. Express reported that Tuesday’s release of 8,761 documents and files, known collectively as “Year Zero,” were but the first in a series of planned releases of information that could comprise the U.S. intelligence agency and change entirely the notion of cyber security and privacy as we currently understand it.
Founder Julian Assange attempted to hold a live stream discussion of the release, but cyber attacks prevented him from doing so.
However, a statement from the organization stated, “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 US government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive,” the statement added.
For those without the time, patience or technical understanding to sift through the thousands of documents and lines of computer code, the good folks at Milo Yiannopoulos’ site have compiled a brief summation of the most chilling revelations. (When not engaged in ideological battle with progressives, Milo is a tech guy at heart.)
First and foremost, the malware used by the CIA to hack can be disguised as belonging to foreign intelligence agencies, and in fact some of it was believed to have originally been stolen from certain foreign intelligence agencies, such as the Russians.
According to the documents, the CIA can and has hacked private U.S. citizens, and is capable of secretly accessing the cameras and microphones on smartphones and other devices to surreptitiously gather information, and can be controlled remotely. They are capable also of accessing geolocation services, collecting audio and text before they are sent over encrypted services, and even collecting saved passwords.
Frighteningly, some of these tools have been specifically designed to go around certain anti-virus programs and can even jump the “air gap” to infect CDs, DVDs, flash drives and other accessories to a computer system.
Perhaps the most chilling revelation of all, however, was that it had been understood that the CIA would reveal to private companies the vulnerabilities in their operating systems that had been discovered, but the agency instead sat on the information and kept it secret.
Unfortunately, now that what the CIA has been secretly doing has been leaked, there is literally no telling who may have also acquired the tools to spy on virtually anybody, at any time, anywhere.
To be sure, there is far more to this story, and presuming that Assange follows through on releasing additional related documents, we will likely find out soon how deep this rabbit hole goes.
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