The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has technology capable of infecting “factory fresh” iPhones and has been bugging the devices since at least 2008, WikiLeaks claimed Thursday.
In a statement released on its website, the whistleblowing organization said the technology developed by the CIA’s Embedded Development Branch (EDB) was designed to be physically installed onto new iPhones.
“It is likely that many CIA physical access attacks have infected the targeted organization’s supply chain including by interdicting mail orders and other shipments [opening, infecting, and resending] leaving the United States or otherwise,” the statement read.
Another alleged CIA tool, exposed in the WikiLeaks release Thursday, has the ability to execute code from a USB stick while a Mac computer is still booting up, allowing a user to bypass firmware passwords and load the attack software.
Thursday’s release is the latest batch of documents published by WikiLeaks alleging to show espionage programs used by the U.S. spy agency.
A previous WikiLeaks release purported to expose a massive hacking program employed by the CIA.
Among the revelations in the previous release came accusations that the CIA possesses a library of hacking malware employed by other states, including Russia, that it can use to leave behind false “fingerprints” to cover up its exploits and mislead investigators.
A spokesman for the CIA said at the time the agency does not comment “on the authenticity of purported intelligence documents.”
WikiLeaks also says that NightSkies allowed the CIA to gain “full remote command and control” of iPhones and access files, such as text messages, call logs and contacts.
Also detailed in the new leak is ‘Sonic Screwdriver’ – named after Doctor Who’s trademark tool – described by the CIA as a “mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a Mac laptop or desktop is booting”
The document, which dates back to 2012, describes how agents could infect a Mac with malware using a Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter.
A 2009 file called ‘DarkSeaSkies’, meanwhile, details a hacking technique for the MacBook Air, and WikiLeaks says that the CIA could still be relying on ‘DerStarke’, a firmware attack dating back to 2013.
In the aftermath of the original Vault 7 document release, Apple released a statement saying that it had already addressed the majority of vulnerabilities allegedly exploited by the CIA.
“Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ privacy and security,” a spokesperson said. “The technology built into today’s iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers, and we’re constantly working to keep it that way.
“Our products and software are designed to quickly get security updates into the hands of our customers, with nearly 80 percent of users running the latest version of our operating system.
“While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities.”