WikiLeaks is known best for its anonymous behind the scenes information releases. While some facts from the documents may be a good news to several people, the other releases are disastrous and potentially damaging. It especially applies to the reputation of big companies like Apple.
It seems like Julian Assange’s organization can certainly expose anything on Earth. The latest victim is CIA coupled with Apple and various other tech giants including Google and Microsoft.
Some of the documents shared by WikiLeaks as part of the CIA Vault 7 data dump describe the hacking methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency to access Apple devices and their data. Below are some of the methods.
Claimed CIA Hack Mechanisms/Techniques
Sonic Screwdriver V1.0
This is a neat 2012 hack technique that uses a peripheral device to infringe and affect your Mac. According to the reports, CIA was installing this Malware on Thunderbolt-to-ethernet adaptors. One you flash the dongle, the executing process is easy. The code would automatically affect the accessory and infect the hardware of the Mac upon powering it on. In other words, it is an excellent silent attack that would fool anyone. You can attack several Macbooks with only one device.
Triton is one of the most powerful types of malware. The CIA can get files and folders from your computer once this bug is installed into the system. The CIA can install the bug from anywhere. For example, one can mount your hard drive to the volumes folder.
Der Starke V1.4
Der Starke is another terrible beast. Released in 2013, it works perfectly on Apple devices. Released in 2013 it runs well on X10.7 operating systems. Compared to the aforementioned Triton, this malware is sneakier.
Der Starke is a diskless malware. Therefore, you won’t be able to locate it on your hard drive. It can be installed from a USB thumb drive or a hard drive. Just like the Triton, CIA can retrieve loads of data from your computer while remaining silent. While uploading the data, Der Starke mimics any browser process. Therefore, it may seem as if you are uploading data to Facebook while, in fact, you are sharing your private information with the hacker. In addition, various top-notch security apps such as Little Snitch can’t detect Der Starke.
Compared to the other techniques, this one is quite an old fashioned one. Its target was the old version of MacBook Air and the operating system X10.5. Just like the Der Starke, this malware infects your hardware.
Each of the aforementioned malware types has its primary function. DarkMatter installs malware on the hard drive, SeaPea is responsible for hiding the files, and NightSkies enables the CIA to run the commands on your Macbook remotely.
This was a malware that was particularly designed for the iPhone. It was released in 2008 and was used to get as much data from iPhone users as possible. The malware could easily hack the iPhone 2.1 and iPhone 3G. NightSkies used to be quite powerful. The malware could gain access to individuals’ address books, SMS conversations, and call logs. And then, the data would get transferred to the CIA servers.
The installation process of this malware is old fashioned. One should use iTunes and connect the iPhone device to the computer.
Apple And WikiLeaks: 5 Things You Didn’t Know
WikiLeaks provided details of CIA’s ability to exploit the vulnerabilities of any smartphone or computer. Essentially, any device that uses Wi-Fi is vulnerable. According to the data published byWikiLeaks, the Government’s agency took advantages of the ‘zero-day’ vulnerabilities. Below is the list of the five things you need to know about Apple and WikiLeaks.
Apple And WikiLeaks 1: Encrypted chat apps haven’t been compromised, but smartphones are vulnerable
Signal and WhatsApp are some of the few tools that CIA hasn’t cracked yet. This is because they have an end-to-end encryption tool. However, the spy agency can compromise smartphones that send and receive messages through such apps. Certainly, they can access data, images, videos, camera and microphones on these devices.
Apple And WikiLeaks 2: How vulnerable is your iPhone?
As per documents released by WikiLeaks, CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch developed numerous attacks that helped the agents hack and control various smartphones. The phones can be instructed to send the user’s location, audio, or a simple text communication. CIA can also activate your phone’s camera and microphone. iPhone is always a major target. The reason is simple. Apple’s products are the most popular on the market. iPhones are especially popular among social, diplomatic, political and business elites.
Apple And WikiLeaks 3: Any other devices the CIA can access?
Referring to WikiLeaks, the US-based spy agency also targeted computers running on Windows, Samsung Smart TVs and Apple devices running iOS. In addition, CIA is also looking to find ways to infect vehicle control systems that are used by modern cars and trucks. This would give the Government’s agency all the necessary tools for undetectable assassinations.
Apple And WikiLeaks 4: Who were the targets?
CIA wouldn’t begin such an operation without having a major target. WikiLeaks reported that there are tens of thousands of targets across Latin America, US, and Europe.
Apple And WikiLeaks 5: Are you at risk?
Users of iPhone, Android, tablets, Samsung Smart TVs, or Computers running on Windows are hypothetically vulnerable. However, unless you are a target, worry not.
Julian Assange said that WikiLeaks would help companies like Apple with sharing the sensitive documents if the tech giants promise to fix the vulnerabilities within the company’s products. Despite all these greater intentions coming from Wikileaks, Apple didn’t seem too grateful. In fact, Apple’s public response was downright frosty. The management claimed that it was not going to collaborate with WikiLeaks in any way.
Apple stated that WikiLeaks should not be treated differently from any other individual or a company. In addition, the tech giant assured its users that it has prioritized security issues of its devices. Thus, the users should not worry about anything. According to Apple, dubious claims from WikiLeaks do not deserve anyone’s attention. To Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, such response was an obvious slap in the face.