WikiLeaks #Vault7: Here's what CIA can do to your gadgets - and car

WikiLeaks #Vault7: Here's what CIA can do to your gadgets - and car
The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in Langley
PHOTO: Reuters

You may spy with your little eye but it seems the US Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA's) got a whole lot more technology to look into the activities of whoever they want.

That is, if the latest publication released by notorious whistleblower WikiLeaks is to be believed. If so, it marks the largest ever expose of CIA's spying secrets.

In an official release, WikiLeaks referred to its latest leak on the CIA as "Vault 7".

The first full part of the leak consists of 8,761 confidential documents and files from within the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence, said WikiLeaks.

This trove of documents had been mysteriously dubbed as "Year Zero" on WikiLeak's official Twitter account in the lead up to the leak.

It has now been made clear that "Year Zero" exposes full details of the CIA's "global covert hacking programme" that works against major operating systems and even turns electronic devices into microphones.

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And you thought your WhatsApp messages were safe from anyone's eyes except your own?

While the actual hacks have not been published, the documents reveal details of how they were created, The Telegraph reported.

The files are publicly shared on WikiLeaks' website so it's free for all to see. However, the allegations made by WikiLeaks have yet to be proven.

Here's a short list of what they claim the CIA is capable of:

1) Samsung smart TVs used as covert listening devices

Smart TVs can be hacked after all.

The Samsung TV hack, also referenced as "Weeping Angel", is when a TV screen appears to be switched off but is actually recording audio conversations.

The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in co-operation with the United Kingdom's MI5/BTSS, said WikiLeaks in its statement.

2) Your iPhone or Android device can be turned into microphones

The leaked confidential documents show that the CIA's Mobile Devices Branch created multiple tools to remotely hack both Android and iOS smartphones.

Your phones' camera and microphone can be activated and the CIA could potentially receive the "user's geolocation, audio and text communication". Scary stuff!

3) Encryption of mobile messaging apps can be bypassed

Frequently used chat apps such as Telegram and Whatsapp aren't spared.

Details from the document dump show that the CIA had tools to hack into popular social media services.

"These techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the "smart" phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied," WikiLeaks said.

4) Ability to break into all kinds of computers

WikiLeaks claims that the CIA "runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware".

A virus known as the "Hammer Drill" claims to be able to infect removable media like thumbdrives as well as software on CDs and DVDs.

The CIA is accused of developing "automated multi-platform malware attack and control systems" including that of Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and more.

5) Hacking into cars' electronics to crash them

This might be the spookiest claim of all. One file shows that the CIA has been exploring ways to hack into cars and vans by means of remotely controlling them.

This would thus "permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations", said WikiLeaks.

ssandrea@sph.com.sg

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