WikiLeaks has long been known for disclosing confidential information related to various schemes and exploits from famous groups and organizations, but today it revealed a whole trove of intelligence that makes it feel like we might really be living in George Orwell’s ‘1984’.
The leaked information set, being called ‘Vault 7’ is a huge trove of CIA spying documents revealing the full scope of what the organization is capable of. While we’ve known for a while now that organizations like the NSA have access to much more personal information than many citizens are comfortable with, the recent leak suggests that the Central Intelligence Agency has the ability to turn any Android, iOS, Windows, or Samsung TV device into a covert microphone, listening in on practically any area in the world at whatever point in time they see fit.
This is extremely concerning for a number of reasons. While Edward Snowden’s leak on the NSA was a huge deal in its own right, the CIA is not bound by nearly as many laws as the National Security Agency. There is far less oversight and legal obstacles for the organization, and while it seems we are just beginning to get some sort of reigns on the NSA years after Snowden’s initial disclosure, the CIA doesn’t play by quite the same rules.
While the documents disclose that the malware only has the ability to activate and record data from Samsung smart TV microphones, it also mentions that infected smartphones can have their audio, text, and geo-location data routed to the agency, while also activating sensors such as the device’s camera.
The agency apparently had access to 24 different “zero days” for Android devices, which allowed it to bypass the end-to-end encryption of apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Weibo and Confide, collecting the message data sent through the device before the encryption was applied to the messages. This essentially allowed all information input by the user to be collected by the CIA, meaning there was no hiding information, even when using apps users thought to be secure.
The enormous amount of documents collected by WikiLeaks is still being analyzed, as the full first section of the series, being named “Year Zero” includes 8,761 documents on its own.
This story is still developing, and we will keep you up to date with any additional information related to potential device hacking and exploits.