World

WikiLeaks claims CIA can hack into phones, TVs

Nearly 9,000 documents allegedly leaked from CIA show it has produced more than 1,000 malware systems

WASHINGTON The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) can turn your TV into a listening device, bypass popular encryption apps, and possibly control your car, according to a trove of documents allegedly from the US spy agency released by WikiLeaks.

The group posted nearly 9,000 documents it said were leaked from the CIA, in what it described as the largest-ever publication of secret intelligence materials.

WikiLeaks claimed a vast trove of CIA documents, hacking tools and code representing "the majority of its hacking arsenal" were leaked within the cyber security community - and that it had received, and released, a part of these.

"This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA," it said, warning of a risk of cyber weapons proliferation.

Neither the CIA nor the White House would say if the documents were genuine.

If corroborated, the leak could represent a huge new embarrassment to US intelligence, adding to Edward Snowden's 2013 expose of the National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans' communications, and the arrest last year of an NSA official for removing massive amounts of top-secret material to his home over 20 years.

WikiLeaks said the data shows that the CIA is now rivalling the NSA, the US government's main electronic spying body, in cyber warfare, but with less oversight.

The archive shows the CIA exploiting weaknesses it discovers in hardware and software systems, including those made by US companies - without letting anyone know about the flaws, AFP reported.

Documents show the CIA has produced more than 1,000 malware systems - viruses, trojans and other software that can infiltrate and control personal electronics, WikiLeaks noted.

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, said WikiLeaks.

The agency has also examined hacking into the electronic control systems on cars and trucks, potentially enabling it to control them remotely.

By infecting and effectively taking over the software of smartphones, WikiLeaks said, the CIA can get around the encryption technologies of popular apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Weibo and Confide by collecting communications before they are encrypted.

Several tech firms that made the products that have been allegedly compromised by the CIA reacted to the claims, BBC reported. Apple's statement was the most detailed, saying it had already addressed some of the vulnerabilities.

DATA SECURITY

It 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 per cent of users running the latest version of our operating system."

Samsung - its F8000 series TVs was reportedly compromised via a hack co-developed with the UK's MI5 agency - was brief.

It said: "Protecting consumers' privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority at Samsung.

"We are aware of the report in question and are urgently looking into the matter."

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