WikiLeaks' CIA document dump shows agency can compromise Android, TVs

The website releases more than 8,700 documents it says are from a CIA cyber unit

WikiLeaks has released more than 8,700 documents it says come from the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence, with some of the leaks saying the agency had 24 "weaponized" and previously undisclosed exploits for the Android operating system as of 2016.

Some of the Android exploits were developed by the CIA, while others came from the U.S. National Security Agency, U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ, and cyber arms dealers, according to the trove of documents released Tuesday.

Some smartphone attacks developed by the CIA allow the agency to bypass the encryption in WhatsApp, Confide, and other apps by collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied, according to the WikiLeaks analysis.

The documents show the CIA "hoarding" undisclosed, or zero-day, exploits for a number of systems, despite promises from former President Barack Obama's administration to share the vulnerabilities with vendors, according to WikiLeaks analysis.

The CIA declined to comment on the authenticity of the leaks. The documents, which cover the years 2013 to 2016, amount to the "largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency" and the "entire hacking capacity of the CIA," WikiLeaks claimed.

Some documents released describe how the spy agency used malware and hacking tools to target iPhones and smart television sets. Others detail the CIA unit's efforts to compromise Windows, Apple's OS X, Linux, and routers.

One attack, called Weeping Angel, targets Samsung smart TVs and was developed by the CIA and the U.K.'s MI5, according to WikiLeaks' analysis of the documents.

The Weeping Angel attack attempts to place the target TV in a "fake-off" mode to trick the owner into believing the devices is off when it is on. In the fake-off mode, the TV set can be used as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the internet to a CIA server.

In late 2014, the CIA was also looking for ways to infect vehicle software systems, according to one document.

The CIA unit's cyber weapons could create serious problems if the agency loses control of them, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said in a press release.

"There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber 'weapons,' he said. "Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such 'weapons', which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade."

Samsung and Google, the creator of the Android operating system, didn't immediately respond to questions about potential CIA attacks against their products.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securitywikileakshacking

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?