On Tuesday, Mar. 7, the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks announced that it had obtained top-secret hacking tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to break into communication apps, smartphones, and other electronic devices. Wikileaks published confidential documents on all those programs.
Wikileaks Reveals New CIA Spying Scandal
According to The Washington Post, the latest revelations about U.S. government's powerful hacking tools suggest that a variety of everyday devices can be turned to spy on their owners. This means that surveillance tools can potentially move into hip pockets of billions of users worldwide as well as right into the homes. Internet-connected vehicles, smartphones, and smart TVs are all vulnerable to CIA hacking.
According to Bloomberg, the 8,761 documents and files posted by Wikileaks on Tuesday are allegedly coming from the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence. The capabilities described include recording the private text messages, images and sounds of users, even when encrypted apps are used to communicate. The CIA also studied the possibility to infect vehicle control systems used by modern vehicles in order to perform "nearly undetectable assassinations."
CIA Center For Cyber Intelligence's Tools
Wikileaks wrote that in the case of a tool called "Weeping Angel" for attacking Samsung SmartTVs, the target TV is placed after infestation in a "Fake-Off" mode. The TV is then recording conversations in the room. The recordings are sent over the Internet to a covert CIA server.
Other documents list supposed tools for cracking into such widely popular devices as the Android smartphones and Apple's iPhone. However, there are some differences from the revelations made in 2013 by the National Security Agency's former contractor Edward Snowden. His documents largely described mass surveillance of Internet-based communications systems, while the focus of the CIA appears to be the individual devices.
Well-encrypted communications on popular apps like WhatsApp or Signal can be accessed by CIA by targeting devices, without having to crack the encryption itself. As opposed to defeating encryption technologies, the CIA just "bypassed" them. The revelations of yet another government attempt to use modern technology in order to spy on citizens have been met with criticism by privacy advocate agencies.