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WikiLeaks exposes alleged CIA hacking programme

Update: March, 08/2017 - 15:35
Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain speaks to the media on his way into a closed Senate Intelligence Committee briefing in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, USA, on Tuesday. McCain spoke about Wikileaks’ release of thousands of documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). — EPA/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

WASHINGTON  The CIA can turn your TV into a listening device, bypass popular encryption apps, and possibly control your car, according to a trove of alleged documents from the US spy agency released on Tuesday by WikiLeaks.

The group posted nearly 9,000 documents it said were leaked from the Central Intelligence Agency, in what it described as the largest-ever publication of secret intelligence materials.

WikiLeaks claimed that a vast trove of CIA documents, hacking tools and code representing "the majority of its hacking arsenal" were leaked within the cyber security community -- and that it had received, and released, a part of them.

"This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA," it said, warning of a risk of cyber weapons proliferation.

Neither the CIA nor the White House would say if the documents were genuine.

If corroborated, the leak could represent a huge new embarrassment to US intelligence, adding to Edward Snowden’s 2013 expose of National Security Agency spying on Americans’ communications, and the arrest last year of an NSA official for removing massive amounts of top-secret material to his home over 20 years.

WikiLeaks said the data shows that the CIA is now rivaling the NSA, the US government’s main electronic spying body, in cyber warfare, but with less oversight.

Bypassing encryption 

The archive shows the CIA exploiting weaknesses it discovers in hardware and software systems, including those made by US companies -- without letting anyone know about the flaws in question.

Documents show the CIA has produced more than 1,000 malware systems -- viruses, trojans and other software that can infiltrate and take control of personal electronics, WikiLeaks noted.

These hacking tools have targeted iPhones, Android systems such as the personal phone reportedly still used by President Donald Trump, popular Microsoft software, and Samsung smart TVs, which can be transformed into covert microphones, according to WikiLeaks.

The agency has also examined hacking into the electronic control systems on cars and trucks, potentially enabling it to control them remotely.

By infecting and effectively taking over the software of smartphones, WikiLeaks said, the CIA can get around the encryption technologies of popular apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Weibo, and Confide by collecting communications before they are encrypted.

Looks authentic

The CIA would neither confirm nor deny the documents were genuine.

"We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents," said spokesman Jonathan Liu in an email.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined to comment, saying "That’s something that has not been fully evaluated."

But Devin Nunes, chairman of the House of Representatives’s Intelligence Committee, said the disclosures "appear to be very, very serious."

"We are very concerned," he said.

The documents allegedly come from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, which operates both from its Langley, Virginia, headquarters near Washington, and from an office in the US consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, according to WikiLeaks.

"The archive appears to have been circulated among former US government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive," the group said.

Snowden, who was a contract employee for the NSA before he stole and leaked secret materials, said via Twitter that the document trove "looks authentic". — AFP

 

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