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WikiLeaks Trove Appears to Show CIA Hacking Tools

10 March 2017

The Central Intelligence Agency has maintained a wide range of exploits to hack into smartphones and other connected devices, according to a trove of almost 9,000 government documents released by WikiLeaks Tuesday.

USA intelligence agencies believe the emails were hacked by Russian Federation as part of a coordinated influence campaign to discredit Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and help President Donald Trump, a Republican, win.

WikiLeaks published more than 8,700 alleged CIA documents this week in what the website deemed the biggest breach of information in the agency's history.

Wikileaks claims it has never released a false document.

To date, neither the Central Intelligence Agency nor the White House has confirmed the authenticity of the leaks, though sources speaking to CNN confirmed the leaks were accurate for the most part - though it is possible that some documents may have been altered.

A serious breach to privacy, WikiLeaks alleges that the intelligence agency adopted unethical hacking techniques to appear as hackers from foreign countries like Russian Federation to get access to the aforementioned devices across the globe.

The organisation explicitly targeted the devices running on Apple's iOS given its popularity in political and elite class. Devices running on Google's Android faced a similar number of attacks and include devices by Samsung, HTC and Sony, given that 85% of the world's smartphones run on it.

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The documents have yet to be confirmed by the CIA, but if true mean the agency has been stockpiling known exploits rather than disclosing them to manufacturers.

The most powerful of these weapons are so-called zero day exploits - code that takes advantage of new flaws in software that no one else has yet spotted, potentially creating secret back doors that can be used over long periods.

Technology firms will get "exclusive access" to details of the CIA's cyber-warfare programme, Wikileaks has said.

Snowden's leak revealed the NSA was spying on Americans' phone records and disclosed PRISM, a program the NSA used to directly access servers of US technology companies.

While the agency did not confirm the documents are authentic, Google and Apple's response indicate that the software exploits and critical security vulnerabilities that the documents refer to are definitely real. Wikileaks has claimed that some secure messaging apps, like Signal and Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which use end-to-end encryption, can be easily broken into, undermining a major selling point for those companies.

The CIA has so far declined to comment directly on the authenticity of the leak, but in a statement it suggested that the release had equipped adversaries "with tools and information to do us harm".

Owners of Samsung TVs are likely to have particular concerns about the possibility of their television sets being used to listen in on their conversations.

WikiLeaks Trove Appears to Show CIA Hacking Tools