Amid a trove of documents released by WikiLeaks that allegedly contains “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA” is chilling evidence that everyday devices like smart TVs and cell phones have potentially become critical tools in the effort to spy on American citizens.
Documents released in the 8,761 document and file dump dubbed “Vault 7 Part 1” and titled “Year Zero” -- were obtained from an “isolated, high-security network” at the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Va., a press release from WikiLeaks said. The trove had been “circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors,” one of whom allegedly turned the archive to WikiLeaks.
Among revelations still emerging from the shocking disclosure is an alleged CIA program named “Weeping Angel,” in which Samsung brand “smart” televisions were apparently being used as recording devices. “Weeping Angel places the target TV in a “Fake-Off” mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on,” WikiLeaks claims. “In 'Fake-Off' mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.”
In a statement to Fox News’ Investigative Unit, a Samsung communications rep said that “[p]rotecting 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.”
Smart TVs aren’t the only commonly used devices that may have a potentially more-sinister purpose. WikiLeaks is suggesting that “Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows” are also being “turned into covert microphones.” Infected phones, according to the release, “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.”
Gregory Keeley, an expert in the security of digital devices and co-founder of the consulting company Phosphorus, tells Fox News that the problem is also greater than the government's ability to listen-in. "The hacker on the street now has the Intelligence Community’s hacking tool kit. It's that simple."
Fox News also spoke with Matthew Hickey, co-founder and director of the cybersecurity team Hacker House, who thinks it is "unlikely that the exposure is going to cause anyone to stop developing attacks for smart devices.
"Televisions, refrigerators and the Internet of Things will continue to introduce new ways for technology to be used against us," he said. "As more devices are connected to the Internet or connected to our lives, it increases the likelihood of it being hacked and used to spy on us."
“Once Mom and Pop start getting hacked through their Google Home or Amazon Echo, there's going to be some reckoning,” Keeley added.
WikiLeaks claims that its information came from a source who wished “to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”
“We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents," a CIA spokesperson told Fox News.
WikiLeaks, which was founded by Julian Assange in 2006, is an international organization that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. The Australian-born Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for five years, in a bid to avoid what his supporters claim are trumped-up sex assault charges in Sweden.