WikiLeaks “Dark Matter,” a new installment under the whistleblower group’s Vault 7 series, explains how the CIA is able to hack into Apple devices and take full control of them.
Released on Thursday, the newly released document from WikiLeaks made public confidential information that details the methods used by the CIA in order to extract information from Apple gadgets, more specifically the Mac laptops.
According to a statement from the group, the document enumerates “several CIA projects that infect Apple Mac firmware” that practically grants the agency “persistence” over Apple Mac devices. Apparently, the methods have been “infecting” the devices from the Cupertino-based company for eight years now, according to WikiLeaks’ Dark Matter.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 24, 2017
The recent release under the Vault 7 projects claims that the methods developed by CIA’s Embedded Development Branch (EDB) “attack” the firmware of the compromised Apple device, making any effort of removing the infections moot and unsuccessful.
This would then allow the attacker to boot the software he uses to pursue the device even after the user enables a firmware password through the CIA method dubbed as the “Sonic Screwdriver.” According to WikiLeaks’ Dark Matter, this is a “mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a Mac laptop or desktop is booting.”
Other CIA projects unveiled in the document include “DerStarke v1.4,” “DetStarke v1.4 RC1 – IVVRR Checklist,” “Triton v1.3,” and the “DarkSeaSkies v1.0 – URD.”
Under these documents, the CIA reportedly will be able to gain “full remote command and control” of Apple devices remotely and may also allow the agency to infiltrate and track factory fresh iPhones through the NightSkies project.
RT explains that the WikiLeaks “Dark Matter” bomb was dropped just two weeks after group founder Julian Assange talked about how the Vault 7 project compiles leaked documents that uncovers CIA’s ever-changing role in international affairs.
At the time, Assange warned the public of the dangers posed by CIA’s “actions to overthrow governments and influence elections.”
“Since 9/11 the CIA has overtaken the NSA as the budgetary dominant intelligence agency within the US… It is in some ways rivaling the FBI by being an armed force outside the United States, conducting interrogations, renditions and torture.”
At the time, Assange said that tech companies have 90 days to provide their encryption keys to the whistleblower group and revealed how WikiLeaks piqued the interest of private tech institutions such as Microsoft and Google.
Apparently, Microsoft made contact with WikiLeaks but did not agree with “standard terms” while Google made the same position by sending to the group their own terms via a PGP-encrypted email.
While some may be skeptical about the real motivation behind the release, there are still those who openly support WikiLeaks “Dark Matter.” In fact, one of them criticized how Twitter censored the audio of a live conference and Assange’s Q&A with social media users over Periscope via the microblogging platform on Thursday, March 23.
— l.an.a. (@phantasmagemina) March 23, 2017
Earlier this month, Assange told the world that WikiLeaks “Dark Matter” containing CIA’s hacking methods will be given to private tech firms in order for them to “disarm” the hacking tools, per a report from NPR.
“We have decided to work with [manufacturers] to give them exclusive access to the additional technological details we have so that fixes can be developed and pushed out.”
However, the computer programmer-slash-journalist said that they will not be giving the code just yet in order to avoid “the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons.” According to the outlet, WikiLeaks wants a consensus among tech companies first before handing them the code.
At the time, Assange did not give any timeline but we now know that tech companies were given a 90-day timeframe to respond to their call.
What did you think of this article? Tell us your thoughts via the comments section below and stay tuned for more update on the WikiLeaks “Dark Matter” and Vault 7 project.
[Featured Image by Brian Kersey/Getty Images]