WikiLeaks releases 'biggest ever leak of secret CIA documents'
Already embroiled in a row with President Donald Trump amid his claims that spies are leaking secrets against him, the American Intellicence Services are now facing its own embarrasemnt.
On Monday, WikiLeaks published what it described as the biggest ever leak of confidential documents from the CIA detailing the tools it uses to break into phones, communication apps and other electronic devices.
The leak, named “Vault 7” by WikiLeaks, focus mainly on techniques for hacking and reveal how the CIA cooperated with British intelligence to engineer a way to compromise smart televisions and turn them into improvised surveillance devices, as reported in The Guardian. A program called Wrecking Crew explains how to crash a targeted computer, and another tells how to steal passwords using the autocomplete function on Internet Explorer.
In one revelation that may especially trouble the tech world if confirmed, WikiLeaks said that the C.I.A. and allied intelligence services have managed to compromise both Apple and Android smartphones, allowing their officers to bypass the encryption on popular services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram, as reported in The New York Times. According to WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate smartphones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”
The leak, about 9,000 secret files, wew all running from 2013 to 2016. It also follows disclosures about Afghanistan and Iraq by army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010 and about the National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ by Edward Snowden in 2013.
“The archive appears to have been circulated among former US government hackers and contractors in an unauthorised manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive,” Wikileaks said in a statement.
Unlike the National Security Agency (NSA) documents Edward J. Snowden gave to journalists in 2013, they do not include examples of how the tools have been used against actual foreign targets. That could limit the damage of the leak to national security. But the breach was highly embarrassing for an agency that depends on secrecy, reported The New York Times.
The C.I.A is already involved in a controversy with the White House over alleged links between Trump's team and Russia.
US officials have claimed WikiLeaks acts as a conduit for Russian intelligence and Trump sided with the website during the White House election campaign, praising the organisation for publishing leaked Hillary Clinton emails.