WikiLeaks has published a huge trove of what appear to be CIA spying secrets.
The files are the most comprehensive release of US spying files ever made public, according to Julian Assange. In all, there are 8,761 documents that account for “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA”, Mr Assange claimed in a release, and the trove is just the first of a series of “Vault 7” leaks.
Already, the files include far more pages than the Snowden files that exposed the vast hacking power of the NSA and other agencies.
In publishing the documents, WikiLeaks had ensured that the CIA had “lost control of its arsenal”, he claimed. That included a range of software and exploits that if real could allow unparalleled control of computers around the world.
It includes software that could allow people to take control of the most popular consumer electronics products used today, claimed WikiLeaks.
“‘Year Zero’ introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized 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 organisation said in a release.
The public files don’t include the cyber weapons themselves, according to a statement. The organisation will refrain from distributing “armed” software “until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should analyzed, disarmed and published”, it said.
The files were made available by a source who intended them to start a conversation about whether the CIA had gained too much power, according to the organisation.
“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,” a release read. “The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”
It also redacts the details of some of the names, locations and targets that are identified in the documents.
The organisation had teased the release in advance with strange messages about the release being “Year Zero”, and references to “Vault 7”. It had planned to release the files later on but that plan was thrown off when its press conference came under cyber attack, Mr Assange claimed.