Wikileaks have released a huge stash of documents that it claims reveals the entire hacking capacity of the CIA in one of the biggest reveals by the whistleblowing site in its history.
The 8,761 document dump has been published as part of Year Zero', the first part in a series of leaks on the agency that Wikileaks has dubbed 'Vault 7.'
Wikileaks claims that Year Zero reveals full details of the CIA's 'global covert hacking program', including 'weaponised exploits' used against operating systems including Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows and "even Samsung TVs, which are turned into cover microphones".
According to the documents, the CIA's Mobile Devices Branch has created multiple tools for hacking both Android and iOS smartphones, enabling it to remotely acquire location data, audio and text communications, and to switch on the phones' camera and microphones at will.
Such tools also allowed the CIA to hack into social media services including WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram, according to the documents, before traffic encryption is applied.
Wikileaks also claims that as of last year, the CIA has built up an arsenal of 24 Android "zero days", some of which were allegedly obtained by the UK's GCHQ agency and the NSA.
"It is long-standing policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters," a GCHQ spokesperson told the BBC. "Furthermore, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate."
The aforementioned smart TV hack used a surveillance technique dubbed 'Weeping Angel', which was reportedly created in partnership with the UK's MI5. This tool allegedly allows government agencies to place Samsung TVs into "fake-off mode", that allows conversations to be recorded even when the television appears to be switched off.
Microsoft's Windows OS is also a target, with Wikileaks noting that "the CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware."
These efforts include the use of multiple local and remote weaponized zero days, air gap jumping viruses such as 'Hammer Drill' which infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, infectors for removable media such as USBs and systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas.
Still working through the publication, but what @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 7, 2017
The documents also claim that the CIA was "looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks" to enable them to "engage in nearly undetectable assassinations."
Commenting on the leak, WikiLeaks co-editor Julian Assange - whose press conference on Tuesday was reportedly hacked - said the cache showed the "extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber weapons."
"The significance of 'Year Zero' goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective," he said.
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