WikiLeaks publishes mammoth haul of CIA spying secrets in Vault 7 release

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

WikiLeaks has released the largest ever publication of confidential files on the CIA’s spying secrets, according to its CEO Julian Assange.

The documents that make up the ‘Vault 7’ Project say that the CIA has developed software to enable hackers to spy on people through televisions, mobile phones and computers.

Today’s release, referred to as ‘Year Zero’ is just the first part of a series, but already contains more documents than the Snowden files, revealing the vast espionage power of the NSA.

WikiLeaks claims that the U.S. government agency has an extensive global covert hacking programme, featuring malware that is able to use the most popular consumer electronic products to listen to what people are saying.

Nearly 9,000 CIA documents were released in the Year Zero project (Rex)
WIkiLeaks claim the CIA has developed software that enable them to spy on people through their phones (Rex)

The organisation said in a statement: “‘Year Zero’ introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of ‘zero day’ weaponised exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”

The attack against Samsung smart TVs, allowing hackers to eavesdrop on conversations, was developed alongside MI5, according to WikiLeaks.

They claim that a malware known as ‘Weeping Angel’ places the TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode – fooling the owner into thinking the set is off when it is actually on.

The TV then operates as a bug, allegedly recording speech in the room and sending it over the Internet to a CIA server.

 WikiLeaks claims that the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt is actually a secret CIA espionage base, used by its hackers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

They say that CIA hackers are given diplomatic passports, freeing them up to travel across much of Europe freely, enabling them to carry out cyber attacks where physical proximity is needed.

The files also contain claims that the CIA’s secret hacking division produced a huge amount of weaponised malware to infest iPhone and Android phones – and lost control of it.

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Year Zero contains a treasure trove of 8,761 documents and files garnered from high-powered source within the CIA.

This source is said by the organisation to want a public debate on whether the CIA now has too much power.

Wikileaks added: “In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency.

WikiLeaks head Julian Assange had planned to discuss the documents in a press conference (Flickr)

“The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”

Further information in the documents allege that the CIA deliberately hid their ability to hack smartphones and TVs worldwide from their makers – despite President Obama’s pledge to reveal their knowledge.

The latest release could represent yet another catastrophic breach for the US intelligence community at the hands of WikiLeaks and its allies.

Jonathan Liu, a spokesman for the CIA, said: “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”

Rendition Infosec founder Jake Williams, who has experience dealing with government hackers, said that the files’ extensive references to operation security meant they were almost certainly government-backed.

He said: “I can’t fathom anyone fabricated that amount of operational security concern. It rings true to me.

WikiLeaks claimed a stream of a planned press conference about the documents had been attacked (Facebook)

“The only people who are having that conversation are people who are engaging in nation-state-level hacking.”

WikiLeaks had been set to hold a press conference about the files this afternoon but Mr Assange claimed his streaming links were “under attack” and it is now being rescheduled.

Wikileaks last notable data release was in the run up to the US Presidential election in 2016 when thousands of emails from the gmail account of Hillary Clinton’s account manager John Podesta made headlines around the world.

Top pic: WikiLeaks