The CIA can turn your TV into a listening device, bypass popular encryption apps, and possibly control your car, according to thousands of documents published by WikiLeaks, an anti-surveillance group.
WikiLeaks said on Tuesday the documents show that the Central Intelligence Agency is rivalling the National Security Agency (NSA), the US government’s main electronic spying body, in cyber warfare, but with less oversight.
It said 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”.
Jonathan Liu, a spokesman for the CIA, said: “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”
Experts who have started to sift through the material said that it appeared legitimate and that the release was almost certain to shake the CIA.
Jake Williams, a security expert with Augusta, Georgia-based Rendition Infosec, who has experience dealing with government hackers, said the voluminous files’ extensive references to operation security meant they were almost certainly government-backed.
“I can’t fathom anyone fabricated that amount of operational security concern,” he said. “It rings true to me.”
“The only people who are having that conversation are people who are engaging in nation-state-level hacking,” he said.
WikiLeaks said the documents show the CIA has produced more than 1,000 malware systems – viruses, trojans, and other software that can infiltrate and take control of target electronics.
These hacking tools have targeted iPhones, Android systems such as the personal phone reportedly still used by President Donald Trump, popular Microsoft software and Samsung smart TVs, which can be transformed into covert microphones, according to WikiLeaks.
The agency has also examined hacking into the electronic control systems on cars and trucks, potentially making it able to control them.
By infecting smartphones, WikiLeaks said, the CIA can get around the encryption technologies of popular apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Weibo, and Confide by collecting communications before they are encrypted.