New revelations are coming to light about the U.S. government’s hacking tools.
According to WikiLeaks documents released on Tuesday (March 7), the CIA is using a myriad of devices and products, including televisions, smartphones and anti-virus software, to take surveillance on owners.
The document describes actions such as recording sounds, images and text messages of those using devices, whether or not the communication is encrypted. The report highlights the many ways in which the CIA may be turning vulnerabilities into attack tools against unsuspecting people, The Washington Post reported.
In reference to a tool called “Weeping Angel” that’s reportedly used for targeting 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.”
WikiLeaks alleged that the CIA has also studied the possibility of infiltrating vehicle control systems to conduct “nearly undetectable assassinations.” The anti-secrecy group also mentioned a specialized CIA unit called the Mobile Devices Branch that is tasked with creating malware to control and access information stored on iPhone devices.
It’s up for debate whether the CIA’s alleged decision to utilize security vulnerabilities for surveillance rather than report them to tech companies is undermining the efforts to protect U.S. citizens.
“The argument that there is some terrorist using a Samsung TV somewhere — as a reason to not disclose that vulnerability to the company, when it puts thousands of Americans at risk — I fundamentally disagree with it,” Alex Rice, chief technology officer for Hacker One, said.
The WikiLeaks release was not confirmed by the CIA and could not be independently verified by The Washington Post at the time of publication, but reportedly included 8,761 documents within the first batch of documents the group plans to publish.