WikiLeaks Releases Alleged CIA Hacking Secrets

Although not confirmed to be authentic, a former intelligence officer told the New York Times that certain code names, organizational charts, and descriptions within the leak appear to be genuine.

WikiLeaks said the leaked documents "have been circulated among former USA government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner", one of whom provided them to WikiLeaks.

In what it called the "largest ever publication" of stolen CIA documents, WikiLeaks' released documents that appear to describe hacking tools used by the agency.

Policy questions that should be debated in public include "whether the CIA's hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency", WikiLeaks claims the source said.

Because numerous initial documents point to capabilities targeting consumer devices, the hardest questions may revolve around what is known as the "equities" problem.

The majority of the world's smartphones have been "weaponized", according to WikiLeaks, which revealed in its latest leak that the Central Intelligence Agency went to extreme measures to utilize the Android OS for spying. The CIA had also developed techniques to bypass encryption in WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman. Wikileaks published confidential documents on all those programs. According to the report, the intelligence agency uses a combination of malware, viruses, trojans and zero-day exploits (security holes that a manufacturer isn't yet aware of, and so can't easily patch) to gain access to these devices.

"If today's leaks are authenticated, they demonstrate what we've always been warning about government hacking powers - that they can be extremely intrusive, have enormous security implications, and are not sufficiently regulated", a spokesperson told the INQUIRER. The agency has reportedly worked to develop its own attacks on these vulnerabilities and have also purchased exploits from contractors. The documents also detail how the government has allegedly hacked into smart TV's, in particular those made by Samsung.

The CIA would neither confirm nor deny the documents were genuine, or comment on their content.

Earlier on Tuesday, WikiLeaks had tweeted the leak, which it claims came from a network inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia, would be of particular interest to tech journalists.

And it's not just the typical communications devices that are on the CIA's target list, according to the leak. The key distinction means that the strength of the messaging apps themselves is not the issue at hand, but rather the vulnerability of the operating systems, including Apple's iOS and Google's Android, which power almost every connected device we rely on.

  • Carolyn Briggs