Apple iPhone and Android phones hacked by CIA: WikiLeaks

Encryption? What do we care about encryption? We’re the CIA.

Whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone, spooks from America’s spy agency can hack it, siphon off your conversations and messages, and secretly turn on your phone’s camera and microphone to spy on you.

So says WikiLeaks after making public March 7 a purported trove of thousands of leaked documents from the U.S. spy agency.

“The CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch … developed numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart phones,” WikiLeaks said in a press release. “Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.”

Within that CIA branch, a specialized unit creates malware to “infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads,” WikiLeaks said.

Uncle Sam’s spies have discovered and obtained from government branches including the National Security Agency and FBI “numerous” ways — unknown to phone makers — to get into phones’ systems, WikiLeaks said.

Another special CIA unit is dedicated to penetrating Android phones, WikiLeaks said. As of last year, the spy agency had 24 secret ways in — known as “zero day” exploits — to Android systems, according to WikiLeaks.

Cybersecurity expert Matt Blaze, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Distributed Systems Lab, took to Twitter to offer advice — update phone software, don’t run unneeded apps, and avoid becoming a CIA target — and a somewhat chilling warning:

“I still don’t know how to reliably defend a modern phone against a state-level adversary,” Blaze tweeted March 7.

By hacking the phones, the spies can also avoid the encryption in popular messaging apps WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman, according to WikiLeaks.

That capability, if truly possessed by the CIA, undermines the security features important to many of the apps’ users.

Here, for example, is how WhatsApp of Mountain View markets its security: “Privacy and security is in our DNA, which is why we have end-to-end encryption in the latest versions of our app,” the firm’s online marketing materials say. “When end-to-end encrypted, your messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents, status updates and calls are secured from falling into the wrong hands.”

The CIA declined to comment about WikiLeaks’ report. The authenticity of the purportedly leaked documents has not been confirmed.

Google, which makes the Android operating system and Android phones, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and neither did Apple or WhatsApp.

WikiLeaks also claimed that the purportedly leaked documents show the CIA could turn smart TVs into listening devices, and that in 2014 it was looking into hacking the control systems of modern cars and trucks, which “would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.”

Photo: Apple VP Greg Joswiak introduces the new Apple iPhone SE at a product launch event in March 2016 at Apple headquarters in Cupertino. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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  • cosmicunity

    Wouldn’t they still need a warrant for an american..or legal immigrant?

  • Gigi

    Did Assange mention the iPhone need to be jailbreak?

    • J. Coley

      Is that right?

    • NMBill

      Wishful thinking.

  • ChunkyMonkey

    You can skip all this nonsense and just download the CIA Hack program directly from the Playstore, allowing them total access without all the drama and secrecy.

  • Jeff Eatmon

    you would know if it was being used because it would need to use battery, just look at the battery usage you will know if you used it or not.

  • NMBill

    Two words. Windows Phone.