A major leak took place overnight (8 March 2017), with the release of thousands of top secret CIA documents by Wikileads. Titled ‘Year Zero’, the files were published by WikiLeaks and represent the most comprehensive release of U.S. spying files ever made public. What the leaks reveal about devices and apps through which spying can occur are relevant for everyone, but especially Muslims in the west (and Australia). 

The leak includes 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. Notably, these files include troves of hacking data and information on how the government can tap into private computers, mobile phones, smart TVs and a plethora of other platforms and devices.

The documents revealed the CIA’s capability to use the following devices as covert microphones:

  • Apple’s iPhone;
  • Google Android Devices;
  • Microsoft, Mac and Linux operating systems;
  • Samsung TVs.

Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geo-location, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.

A range of apps and devices can be used to spy on people, including activation of listening devices and even cameras

TVs infected with what is called the ‘Weeping Angel’ bug enter a ‘Fake-Off’ mode when switched off, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

According to WikiLeaks, the CIA knew about several flaws in software made by Apple, Google, Samsung and others but didn’t tell the companies about them. Disclosing such vulnerabilities is common practice, so companies can fix them before hackers use them, but it appears the CIA kept this knowledge to itself for it’s own use.

Vault 7: The latest Wikileaks release

With this knowledge, the CIA and allied intelligence services had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services in such a way that audio and message traffic is intercepted before it is even encrypted.

The services, made vulnerable by hacking the smart phones the applications run on, include:

  • Signal;
  • WhatsApp;
  • Telegram;
  • Wiebo;
  • Confide;
  • Cloakman.

One document lays out actions that the CIA allegedly took to infiltrate and take over vehicle control systems in cars and trucks. A capability which the document claims “would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.”

The release said the program was developed in cooperation with British intelligence.

Bob Ayers, a retired U.S. intelligence official currently working as a security analyst, said that the release was ‘real bad’ for the agency. WikiLeaks has promised to release more CIA documents, saying Tuesday’s publication was just ‘the first full part of the series’ titled ‘Vault 7′.

Further reading:

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