New Wikileaks Series Details CIA's 'Specialized Unit' Dedicated to Creating iOS Exploits
Tuesday March 7, 2017 8:37 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
In a new series of leaks focusing on the United States Central Intelligence Agency, code named "Vault 7," Wikileaks has revealed 8,761 documents discovered within an isolated network in Langley, Virginia that "amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code." The code contains what Wikileaks referred to as a "hacking arsenal" of malware, viruses, trojans, and weaponized "zero day" exploits for iOS devices, that could give anyone in possession of the code "the entire hacking capacity of the CIA."
This "Year Zero" release is the first in the full Vault 7 series by Wikileaks, and is said to act as an introduction to the capacity and means of the CIA's covert hacking program. The agency's abilities can take aim at a number of popular consumer products from companies like Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft, turning everything from an iPhone to a smart TV into a "covert microphone."
In its analysis of the released documents, Wikileaks looked at how iPhones and iPads have been targeted by the CIA in the past, and how they can continue to be exploited in the future. Although Android remains a dominant force in the global smartphone market, Wikileaks argued that a "disproportionate focus" has been placed on iOS devices by the CIA, most likely due to the Apple-branded phone's popularity.
Because of this, the agency has a specialized unit in place within the Mobile Development Branch that creates and executes malware to infiltrate, take control of, and exfiltrate sensitive information from iOS products. The MDB's methods are said to include a collection of zero day exploits, which are vulnerabilities in a piece of software unknown by the software's creator and subsequently exploitable by hackers.
Including the iOS malware, Wikileaks claimed that the CIA has recently "lost control" of the majority of its hacking arsenal.
Despite iPhone's minority share (14.5%) of the global smart phone market in 2016, a specialized unit in the CIA's Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads. CIA's arsenal includes numerous local and remote "zero days" developed by CIA or obtained from GCHQ, NSA, FBI or purchased from cyber arms contractors such as Baitshop. The disproportionate focus on iOS may be explained by the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites.
Wikileaks noted that in the wake of Edward Snowden's NSA leaks, a group of technology companies convinced the Obama administration to disclose any zero day exploits and bugs to each company, rather than hoard the information. The Vulnerabilities Equities Process underlined this agreement in 2010, and the U.S. government said it would reveal any vulnerabilities discovered to the company in question.
Documents in Year Zero paint a further negative image for the CIA, which is said to not have abided by the agreement between the technology companies and the U.S. government. An example was given by Wikileaks centering on one malware that can control both the Android phone and iPhone software "that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts." The government is said to not have brought the information forward to Apple or Google in the time it has had the hacking data.
As long as the CIA keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will remain hackable.
The same vulnerabilities exist for the population at large, including the U.S. Cabinet, Congress, top CEOs, system administrators, security officers and engineers. By hiding these security flaws from manufacturers like Apple and Google the CIA ensures that it can hack everyone at the expense of leaving everyone hackable.
The scope of the new Wikileaks documents includes detailed information on the iOS exploits, hacks that could potentially infest vehicle control systems, and even attacks against Samsung smart TV sets. This last point, dubbed "Weeping Angel," was said to have been developed by the CIA in conjunction with the United Kingdom's MI5 as a way to convert turned-off television sets into secret microphones.
The full list of the Year Zero documents can be found on Wikileaks, and complete analysis of the documents by independent security experts will take some time in order for the impact of the release to be determined.
https://www.macrumors.com/2017/03/07/wi ... -exploits/
Trifecta » Wed Jan 17, 2007 6:02 am wrote:What is WikiLeaks.org? Why "wikify" leaking?
WikiLeaks is an uncensorable version of wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. It combines the protection and anonymity of cutting-edge cryptographic technologies with the transparency and simplicity of a wiki interface.
Principled leaking has changed the course of history for the better; it can alter the course of history in the present; it can lead us to a better future.
Consider Daniel Ellsberg, working within the US government during the Vietnam War. He comes into contact with the Pentagon Papers, a meticulously kept record of military and strategic planning throughout the war. Those papers reveal the depths to which the US government has sunk in deceiving the population about the war. Yet the public and the media know nothing of this urgent and shocking information. Indeed, secrecy laws are being used to keep the public ignorant of gross dishonesty practiced by their government. In spite of those secrecy laws and at great personal risk, Ellsberg manages to disseminate the Pentagon papers to journalists and to the world. Despite facing criminal charges, eventually dropped, the release of the Pentagon papers shocks the world, exposes the government, and helps to shorten the war and save thousands of lives.
The power of principled leaking to embarrass governments, corporations and institutions is amply demonstrated through recent history. Public scrutiny of otherwise unaccountable and secretive institutions pressures them to act ethically. What official will chance a secret, corrupt transaction when the public is likely to find out? What repressive plan will be carried out when it is revealed to the citizenry, not just of its own country, but the world? When the risks of embarrassment through openness and honesty increase, the tables are turned against conspiracy, corruption, exploitation and oppression. Open government answers injustice rather than causing it. Open government exposes and undoes corruption. Open governance is the most cost effective method of promoting good governance.
Today, with authoritarian governments in power around much of the world, increasing authoritarian tendencies in democratic governments, and increasing amounts of power vested in unaccountable corporations, the need for openness and democratization is greater than ever.
WikiLeaks is a tool to satisfy that need.
WikiLeaksreduces the risk to potential leakers and improves the analysis and dissemination of leaked documents.
WikiLeaks provides simple and straightforward means for anonymous and untraceable leaking of documents.
At the same time, WikiLeaks opens leaked documents up to a much more exacting scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence agency could provide: the scrutiny of a worldwide community of informed wiki editors.
Instead of a couple of academic specialists, WikiLeaks will provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document relentlessly for credibility, plausibility, veracity and falsifiability. They will be able to interpret documents and explain their relevance to the public. If a document is leaked from the Chinese government, the entire Chinese dissident community can freely scrutinize and discuss it; if a document is leaked from Somalia, the entire Somali refugee community can analyze it and put it in context. And so on.
WikiLeaks may become the most powerful "intelligence agency" on earth -- an intelligence agency of the people. It will be an open source, democratic intelligence agency. But it will be far more principled, and far less parochial than any governmental intelligence agency; consequently, it will be more accurate, and more relevant. It will have no commercial or national interests at heart; its only interests will be truth and freedom of information. Unlike the covert activities of state intelligence agencies, WikiLeaks will rely upon the power of overt fact to inform citizens about the truths of their world.
WikiLeaks will be the outlet for every government official, every bureaucrat, every corporate worker, who becomes privy to embarrassing information which the institution wants to hide but the public needs to know. What conscience cannot contain, and institutional secrecy unjustly conceals, WikiLeaks can broadcast to the world.
WikiLeaks will be a forum for the ethical defection of unaccountable and abusive power to the people.
How will WikiLeaks operate?
To the user, WikiLeaks will look very much like wikipedia. Anybody can post to it, anybody can edit it. No technical knowledge is required. Leakers can post documents anonymously and untraceably. Users can publicly discuss documents and analyze their credibility and veracity. Users can discuss interpretations and context and collaboratively formulate collective publications. Users can read and write explanatory articles on leaks along with background material and context. The political relevance of documents and their verisimilitude will be revealed by a cast of thousands.
WikiLeaks will also incorporate advanced cryptographic technologies for anonymity and untraceability. Those who provide leaked information may face severe risks, whether of political repercussions, legal sanctions or physical violence. Accordingly, extremely sophisticated mathematical and cryptographic techniques will be used to secure privacy, anonymity and untraceability.
For the technically minded, WikiLeaks integrates technologies including modified versions of FreeNet, , PGP and software of our own design.
WikiLeaks will be deployed in a way that makes it impervious to political and legal attacks. In this sense it is uncensorable.
Who is behind WikiLeaks?
WikiLeaks was founded by Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
Our advisory board, which is still forming, includes representatives from expatriate Russian and Tibetan refugee communities, reporters, a former US intelligence analyst and cryptographers.
There are currently 22 people directly involved in the project and counting.
What is your relationship to wikipedia?
WikiLeaks has no formal relationship to wikipedia. However both employ the same wiki interface and technology. Both share the same radically democratic philosophy that allowing anyone to be an author or editor leads to a vast and accurate collective intelligence and knowledge. Both place their trust in an informed community of citizens. What wikipedia is to the encyclopedia, WikiLeaks will be to leaks.
Wikipedia provides a positive example on which WikiLeaks is based. The success of wikipedia in providing accurate and up-to-date information has been stunning and surprising to many. Wikipedia shows that the collective wisdom of an informed community of users may produce massive volumes of accurate knowledge in a rapid, democratic and transparent manner. WikiLeaks aims to harness this phenomenon to provide fast and accurate dissemination, verification, analysis, interpretation and explanation of leaked documents, for the benefit of people all around the world.
What is WikiLeakss present stage of development?
WikiLeaks has developed a prototype which has been successful in testing, but there are still many demands required before we have the scale required for a full public deployment. We require additional funding, the support of further dissident communities, human rights groups, reporters and media representative bodies (as consumers of leaks), language regionalization, volunteer editors/analysts and server operators.
We have received over 1.1 million documents so far. We plan to numerically eclipse the content of the English wikipedia with leaked documents.
Anyone interested in helping us out with any of the above should contact us by email at [insert address here].
When will WikiLeaks go live?
We cannot yet give an exact date. We estimate February or March 2007.
Couldnt leaking involve invasions of privacy? Couldnt mass leaking of documents be irresponsible? Arent some leaks deliberately false and misleading?
Providing a forum for freely posting information involves the potential for abuse, but measures can be taken to minimize any potential harm. The simplest and most effective countermeasure is a worldwide community of informed users and editors who can scrutinize and discuss leaked documents.
Concerns about privacy, irresponsibility and false information also arise with wikipedia. On wikipedia, irresponsible posting or editing of material, or posting of false material, can be reversed by other users, and the results have been extremely satisfying and reassuring. There is no reason to expect any different from WikiLeaks . Indeed, as discovered with wikipedia to the surprise of many, the collective wisdom of an informed community of users may provide rapid and accurate dissemination, verification and analysis.
Furthermore, misleading leaks and misinformation are already well placed in the mainstream media, as recent history shows, an obvious example being the lead-up to the Iraq war. Peddlers of misinformation will find themselves undone by WikiLeaks , equipped as it is to scrutinize leaked documents in a way that no mainstream media outlet is capable of. An analogus example is this excellent unweaving of the British government's politically motivated additions to an intelligence dossier on Iraq. The dossier was cited by Colin Powell in his address to the United Nations the same month to justify the pending US invasion of Iraq.
In any case, our overarching goal is to provide a forum where embarrassing information can expose injustice. All policy will be formulated with this goal in mind.
Is WikiLeaks concerned about any legal consequences?
Our roots are in dissident communities and our focus is on non-western authoritarian regimes. Consequently we believe a politically motivated legal attack on us would be seen as a grave error in western administrations. However, we are prepared, structurally and technically, to deal with all legal attacks. We design the software, and promote its human rights agenda, but the servers are run by anonymous volunteers. Because we have no commercial interest in the software, there is no need to restrict its distribution. In the very unlikely event that we were to face coercion to make the software censorship friendly, there are many others who will continue the work in other jurisdictions.
Is leaking ethical?
We favour, and uphold, ethical behavior in all circumstances. Every person is the ultimate arbiter of justice in their own conscience. Where there is a lack of freedom and injustice is enshrined in law, there is a place for principled civil disobedience. Where the simple act of distributing information may embarrass a regime or expose crime, we recognize a right, indeed a duty, to perform that act. Such whistleblowing normally involves major personal risk. Just like whistleblower protection laws in some jurisdictions, WikiLeaks provides means and opportunity to minimize such risks.
We propose that every authoritarian government, every oppressive institution, and even every corrupt corporation, be subject to the pressure, not merely of international diplomacy or freedom of information laws, not even of quadrennial elections, but of something far stronger: the individual consciences of the people within them.
The CIA is using your TVs, smartphones and cars for spying
By Craig Timberg, Ellen Nakashima and Elizabeth Dwoskin March 7 at 1:54 PM
The latest revelations about U.S. government’s powerful hacking tools potentially takes surveillance right into the homes and hip pockets of billions of users worldwide, showing how a remarkable variety of every day devices can be turned to spy on their owners.
Televisions, smartphones and Internet-connected vehicles are all vulnerable to CIA hacking, according to the Wikileaks documents released Tuesday. The capabilities described include recording the sounds, images and the private text messages of users, even when they use encrypted apps to communicate. Vehicles, meanwhile, are vulnerable to a remote hacker gaining control, allowing “nearly undetectable assassinations.”
In the case of a tool called “Weeping Angel” for attacking Samsung SmartTVs, Wikileaks wrote, “After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a 'Fake-Off' mode, 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.”
The documents, which The Washington Post has not independently confirmed, list supposed tools for cracking into such widely popular devices as Apple’s iPhone or the Android smartphones whose operating system is made by Google, but there are marked differences from the 2013 revelations by the National Security Agency’s former contractor Edward Snowden.
His documents largely described mass surveillance of Internet-based communications systems, more often than the individual devices that appear to have been the focus of the CIA. By targeting devices, the CIA could gain access to even well-encrypted communications, on such popular apps as Signal and WhatsApp, without having to crack the encryption itself. The Wikileaks reports appears to acknowledge that difference by saying the CIA “bypassed” as opposed to defeated encryption technologies.
Privacy say experts the CIA may have been forced into focusing on vulnerable devices because the Internet overall has become more secure through more widespread deployment of encryption. In this new world, devices have become the most vulnerable link.
“The idea that the CIA and NSA can hack into devices is kind of old news,” said Johns Hopkins cryptography expert Matthew Green. “Anyone who though they couldn’t was living in a fantasy world.”
Snowden’s revelations and the backlash made strong encryption a major, well-funded cause for both privacy advocates and, perhaps more importantly, technology companies that had the engineering expertise and budgets to protect data as it flowed across the world.
Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and many other companies announced major new initiatives, in part to protect their brands against accusations by some users that they had made it too easy for the NSA to collect information from their systems. Many Web sites, meanwhile, began encrypting their data flows to users to prevent snooping. Encryption tools such as Tor were strengthened. Encrypting apps for private messaging, such as Signal, were developed.
U.S. government authorities complained loudly that the new wave of encryption was undermining their ability to investigate serious crimes, such as terrorism and child pornography. The FBI sued Apple in hopes of forcing it to unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernadino killers before announcing it had other ways to crack the device amid heavy public criticism.
Against that backdrop, many privacy advocates argued that devices — often called “endpoints” for their place on chains of communications that can criss-cross continents — were the best available target left in a world with widespread online encryption. The Wikileaks documents suggests that the CIA may have reached the same conclusion.
“It would certainly be consistent with the hypothesis that we’ve made real progress in the encryption we’ve been introducing,” said Peter Eckersley, technology projects director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group. “It’s impossible to be 100 percent certain, but reading the tea leaves, it’s plausible.”
The Wikileaks revelations also will serve as a reminder that, for whatever the political backlash to revelations about digital spying, it is not going away and probably will continue to grow. The focus on hacking into individual devices -- rather than the messages traveling between them -- is likely to increase pressure on companies to make those devices safer because, as experts have long said, they are the most vulnerable target in a long chain of digital interactions.
That could be especially important for U.S. tech companies, such as Google, Apple and Facebook, that have worked to rebuild their reputations as stewards of their users’ privacy in recent years.
"The question for companies is how can I keep or grow my customer base when my brand is built around privacy?” Justin Somaini, chief security officer of SAP. "Tech companies are going to cite this and other situations as reasons to employ ever more sophisticated encryption to quote on quote, go dark.”
Cybersecurity experts, meanwhile, reacted with alarm to the news of the Wikileaks release.
“This is explosive,” said Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec, a cybersecurity firm. The material highlights specific antivirus products that can be defeated, going further than a release of NSA hacking tools last year, he said.
The CIA hackers, according to WikiLeaks, even “discussed what the NSA’s …hackers did wrong and how the CIA’s malware makers could avoid similar exposure.”
Hackers who worked at NSA’s Tailored Access Operations unit said the CIA’s library of tools looked comparable. The description of the implants, which are software that enable a hacker to remotely control a compromised device, and other attack tools appear to be “very, very complex” and “at least on par with the NSA,” said one former TAO hacker who spoke on condition his name not be used.
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The WikiLeaks release revealed that they have sophisticated “stealth” capabilities that enable hackers not only to infiltrate systems, but evade detection, as well as abilities to “escalate privileges” or move inside a system as if they owned it.
“The only thing that separates NSA from commodity malware in the first place is their ability to remain hidden,” the former TAO hacker said. “So when you talk about the stealth components, it’s huge that you’re seeing a tangible example here of them using and researching stealth.”
Computer security experts noted that the release includes no actual tools or exploits, “so we don’t know if WikiLeaks did not get them or is just not choosing to publish them,” Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. “However we should assume that whoever stole this data has access to the exploits and tools.”
He noted that the dates in the files suggest the tools were taken in February or March 2016 and that there are at least two documents marked Top Secret, “which suggests that somebody in early 2016 managed to compromise a Top Secret CIA development system and is willing to say that they did.”
One internal CIA document listed a set of Apple iPhone “exploits” — or tools that can be used to compromise the device by taking advantage of software flaws. Some of the tools are based on “zero-days,” which are software vulnerabilities that have not been shared with the manufacturer. So “some of these descriptions will allow Apple to fix the vulnerabilities,” Weaver said. “But at the same time, they’re out in the public and whoever stole this data could use them against U.S. interests.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the ... 24d005c254
seemslikeadream wrote:The CIA is using your TVs, smartphones and cars for spying
Elvis » Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:41 pm wrote:seemslikeadream wrote:The CIA is using your TVs, smartphones and cars for spying
Good thing I don't have a TV, smartphone or car!
(I have a TV set but it's not connected to anything but a DVD player)
Cordelia » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:55 pm wrote:Elvis » Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:41 pm wrote:seemslikeadream wrote:The CIA is using your TVs, smartphones and cars for spying
Good thing I don't have a TV, smartphone or car!
(I have a TV set but it's not connected to anything but a DVD player)
Ditto on all the have-nots (but also take it for granted that spying is done anyway, via laptops, landlines, etc........)
So It Turns Out The CIA Collects Programs For Forging Russian Hacking Fingerprints…
If you needed any more reason to doubt the completely unproven claims of the US intelligence community that the Russian government manipulated the 2016 US elections by hacking American political parties, now you have it. WikiLeaks has released a trove of data from an anonymous insider whose effort to reveal the US government’s Orwellian domestic espionage upon its citizens may end up paralleling Edward Snowden’s 2013 NSA leaks in terms of impact and importance, or perhaps even greater. WikiLeaks reports that, like Snowden, its source wanted to give the public a chance to discuss and debate whether it was appropriate for America’s intelligence community to be doing what it’s been secretly doing, and “whether the CIA's hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency.”
Before we proceed, let me remind my readers that WikiLeaks has a decade-long 100% perfect record of accurately vetting its sources and documents for authenticity. Though today’s headlines are full of equivocations making sure to inform readers that WikiLeaks “claims” these documents come from inside the intelligence community, there is absolutely no reason to doubt this. As we discussed in the last article, WikiLeaks is extremely strict with its publishing standards because its reputation of authenticity is its chief weapon against government opacity, so it never publishes anything unless it is certain of its veracity.
WikiLeaks’ much-hyped Vault 7 documents dropped Tuesday morning, and they did not disappoint. People all over the world are still analyzing the contents of the drop, but the press release that accompanied it gives readers a breakdown of some of what it contains. It reports that the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence has “lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized ‘zero day’ exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation,” that the CIA has violated an agreement that it made with the US tech industry to disclose any serious vulnerabilities it discovers in the systems of US-based manufacturers, and that the CIA has an extensive program for hacking standard household “smart” technology and turning them into surveillance equipment or even untraceable weapons that can be used for vehicular assassinations.
This and so much more will doubtless be the subject of rigorous debate for a long time, but right now, in light of a pressing threat I’ve been writing about a lot lately, I’d like to point out one specific part of WikiLeaks’ press release that definitely needs a whole, whole lot of attention drawn to it, namely that the CIA “collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques 'stolen' from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.” With this collection, WikiLeaks reports, the CIA's Remote Devices Branch's UMBRAGE group is able to “misdirect attribution by leaving behind the ‘fingerprints' of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.”
If you’ve been paying attention to the media coverage on the irritatingly opaque government accusations of Russian election meddling, you’ll know right away why this is a big deal. Here’s a CBS News report from July of last year titled “Russian ‘fingerprints' left behind on DNC hack,” which reports that “The U.S. believes that people working for the Russian government are behind the hack of internal emails at the Democratic National Committee,” because “A U.S. intelligence official told CBS News that the signature of the breach is Russian and the U.S. government has identified methods and techniques used by Russia in past hacks that mirror those used in the DNC incursion.” Many mainstream media outlets covered this story, and in the following months new reports citing Russian hacking “fingerprints” have surfaced. Here’s one from December by the New York Times. Here’s another by Fox 6 News from January. Here’s an interesting one from February by The Hill titled “Ukraine: Russian fingerprints all over power grid hack,” detailing another Russian hacking allegation made by the US-backed Ukrainian government.
Remember, it was anonymous sources in the CIA that originally leaked the allegation that Russia worked to hack information with the intention to manipulate the election for Trump’s benefit to the CIA-funded Washington Post.
Back in December, John Bolton drew controversy with a surprisingly prescient argument in an appearance on Fox’s America’s Election HQ that the alleged Russian hacks could have been a CIA-fabricated “false flag,” citing some gaping plot holes in the “hacking fingerprint” narrative.
As I never grow tired of reminding everyone, the CIA has an extensive history of lying to the American people. WikiLeaks, with its unbroken record of perfect accuracy, has the exact opposite. There are many arguments to be made for why the CIA appears to be pushing for a conflict with Russia, possibly to conduct another of its notorious regime changes and install a more pliable Yeltsin-like president who won’t challenge the hegemony of the US dollar or make bold interventions in strategic areas like Syria, but it’s anyone’s guess. Right now all we know is that they’re liars, and we have even more reason than ever to distrust them.
"The CIA has begun providing raw intelligence documents to members of Congress who are investigating Russia’s meddling in the presidential election," Politico reports. Watch closely.
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