WikiLeaks on Tuesday published thousands of documents that it says came from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, a release that appears to give a close look at intimate details of the spy agency’s cyber-espionage effort.
If it does prove legitimate, the dump will represent yet another catastrophic breach for the US intelligence community at the hands of WikiLeaks and its allies, which have repeatedly humbled Washington with the mass release of classified material.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange described the dump of 8,761 documents as the most comprehensive release of US spying files. The files provide details of “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA” and the trove is the first of a series of the “Vault 7” leaks, he said.
The dump could not immediately be authenticated by The Associated Press and the CIA did not respond to messages seeking comment. However, WikiLeaks has a long track record of releasing top secret government documents.
One expert who examined the dump, Rendition Infosec founder Jake Williams, told the AP the files appeared legitimate.
The latest dump has more pages than the Edward Snowden files, which too were leaked by WikiLeaks and exposed the hacking capabilities of the NSA and other American agencies.
The documents refer to software that could enable unparalleled control of computers and popular consumer electronics products such as iPhones and Android phones across the world.
“‘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 US 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,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.
WikiLeaks said the files were made available to it by a source who intended for them to spark a debate on whether the CIA had too much power.
“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,” the statement said.