WikiLeaks releases documents it says show CIA hacking methods

By Allen Cone  |  March 7, 2017 at 12:31 PM
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March 7 (UPI) -- WikiLeaks on Tuesday released what it says are thousands of documents that detail the Central Intelligence Agency's methods of hacking into electronic devices.

The 7,818 Web pages and 943 attachments are part of what WikiLeaks says are the "largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency." Wikileaks called the document dump Vault 7, which includes more than several hundred million lines of code, providing "the entire hacking capacity of the CIA."

The programs allowed the CIA to tap into phones -- Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows -- and Samsung smart TVs, WikiLeaks said.

WikiLeaks said the CIA and other intelligence services bypassed encryption on the phones and messaging services, including Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram.

Wikileaks said the CIA Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Va., "lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal." The documents are dated from 2013-16.

"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," Wikileaks said in a statement on its website. "Such is the scale of the CIA's undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook."

One program code-named Weeping Angel was allegedly able to use Samsung smart televisions as covert listening devices.

In 2015, Samsung revealed the TVs, which are connected to the Internet, could be accessed.

It provided the following disclaimer with the TVs at one time: "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition."

But in an amended policy Samsung said conversations were not being transmitted to a company data center and users can turn off the interactive commands.

WikiLeaks said the CIA could do more than spying.

"It would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations," the release stated.

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd told The New York Times, "We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents."

WikiLeaks did not reveal the source of the information. But it said it said it hopes the release will initiate "a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons."

WikiLeaks did not release the computer code for useable cyberweapons "until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA's program and how such 'weapons' should be analyzed, disarmed and published."

It also redacted names and other identifying information from release.

In its release, WikiLeaks said President Donald Trump's executive order last month calling for a "cyberwar" review to be prepared within 30 days did not "play a role in setting the publication date" of the documents.

Wikileaks previously has exposed government secrets with document dumps.

Since 2012, WikiLeaks founder Assange, 45, an Australian citizen, has received asylum in Educator's London Embassy. He has lived there to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual assault. Assange also could be extradited to the United States, where he could be prosecuted for WikiLeaks' release of classified U.S. embassy cables.

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