Here we go again, gumshoes. WikiLeaks (read: Julian Assange) says it acquired a massive cache of CIA documents related to the agency’s cyberwar efforts. The information therein, WikiLeaks claims, reveals covert CIA hacking tools that can take over iPhones, Android phones, TVs, and pretty much any type of computer. It’s scary stuff—if you believe what WikiLeaks is saying is true.
The Tuesday morning release, codenamed Vault 7, is apparently part of a larger series that WikiLeaks is calling “Year Zero.” The initial dump allegedly contains “8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina [sic],” according to a WikiLeaks press release. The release also claims that this disclosure is larger than three years’ worth of Snowden releases. WikiLeaks does not identify the source of the documents, other than claiming that an archive of leaked CIA data was “circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive circulated.” Citing an anonymous source in the intelligence community, The New York Times reported that at least some of the information in the documents “appeared to be genuine.”
Regardless of their origin, the documents appear to describe some incredibly scary-sounding hacking tools. WikiLeaks highlighted a few of them in its release, including malware that can infest any smartphone on the planet, an app called “Weeping Angel” that turns Samsung Smart TVs into always-on microphones for CIA spying, and a program called “Fine Dining” that helps agents build customized cyber weapons for specific purposes. The documents also purportedly outline how the CIA builds these weapons, stockpiles zero-day exploits without telling the companies like Google who could fix them, and then fails to keep the malware from getting into the wrong hands. If this is true, WikiLeaks says that “rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike” could be using these weapons right now.