Wednesday, 08 March 2017 06:48

WikiLeaks releases Vault 7, biggest dump of CIA secrets Featured

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WikiLeaks has released a huge number of CIA documents detailing the hacking tools used by the agency in what it calls the biggest dump of security material in history.

The release, dubbed Vault 7 by the organisation, comprises 8761 documents and files from the CIA's Centre for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia. It is part of what WikiLeaks dubs Year Zero.

The release includes zero-day exploits for many software applications that are in common use and which the companies behind them did not know about.

WikiLeaks said in a media release that the CIA had recently lost control of most of its hacking arsenal, including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponised zero-day exploits, malware remote control systems and the documentation for these.

The archive appears to have been circulating around between former US government hackers, one of whom appears to have leaked the whole lot to WikiLeaks.

Weaponised exploits against Apple's iPhone, Google's Android, Microsoft Windows were among the dump, as also exploits to turn Samsung TVs into covert microphones.

WikiLeaks said by the end of last year, the CIA's hacking division had more than 5000 registered users and had produced more than 1000 hacking systems.

"Such is the scale of the CIA's undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilised more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its 'own NSA' with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified," the organisation said.

WikiLeake publisher Julian Assange was quoted as saying: " "There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber 'weapons'. 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.

"But the significance of 'Year Zero' goes well beyond the choice between cyber war and cyber peace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective."

WikiLeaks said it had redacted and anonymised identifying information in the documents for in-depth analysis, including thousands of CIA targets and attack machines in South America, Europe and the US.

"While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in 'Vault 7' part one (
'Year Zero') already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks," it said.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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