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What is Vault 7? WikiLeaks releases ‘Year Zero’ files as part of ‘largest ever’ CIA leak

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by Alice Foster, Express:

WIKILEAKS says its new series of leaked documents, mysteriously known as Vault 7, will be “largest intelligence publication in history”. But what is Vault 7 and what does the Year Zero part of the series reveal?

In the build-up to the bombshell announcement today, WikiLeaks’ Twitter account posted a cryptic question: “What is Vault 7?”A statement from WikiLeaks announced: “Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the US Central Intelligence Agency.

“Code-named ‘Vault 7’ by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

Getty

What is Vault7? WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange releases ‘Year Zero’ leaked documents

“The first full part of the series, ‘Year Zero’, comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina.”WikiLeaks said: “‘Year Zero’ introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of ‘zero day’ weaponized exploits against a wide range of US and European company products.”It added that the products included Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, “which are turned into covert microphones”.

 
In a statement, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’.“Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade.
“But the significance of ‘Year Zero’ goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”

Internet users around the world are now able to download the Year Zero documents after the passphrase was made public earlier today.

Mr Assange was not able reveal the contents of Vault 7 during a online press conference because the live stream fell victim to a cyber attack.

WikiLeaks tweeted: “As Mr Assange’s [Periscope]+Facebook video stream links are under attack, his video press conference will be rescheduled.”

WikiLeaks said: “Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.

“This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.

“The archive appears to have been circulated among former US government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”

WikiLeaks said that the CIA has been building “not just a drone fleet but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers”.

“Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook,” it added.

“The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

“Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.”

Are smart TVs turned into microphones? 

WikiLeaks said: “The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984…

“But ‘Weeping Angel’, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.

“After infestation, 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.

“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.”

Can the CIA hack smart phones?

WikiLeaks added that the CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) developed numerous attacks to “remotely hack and control popular smart phones”.

It said: “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.”

Here are a series of questions and answers given by the WikiLeaks statement today:

What time period is covered?

“The years 2013 to 2016. The sort order of the pages within each level is determined by date (oldest first).”

What is Vault 7?

“Vault 7 is a substantial collection of material about CIA activities obtained by WikiLeaks.”

When was each part of Vault 7 obtained?

“Part one was obtained recently and covers through 2016. Details on the other parts will be available at the time of publication.”

What is the total size of Vault 7?

“The series is the largest intelligence publication in history.”

WikiLeaks noted: “The quantity of published pages in Vault 7 part one (Year Zero) already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.”

How did WikiLeaks obtain each part of Vault 7?

“Sources trust WikiLeaks to not reveal information that might help identify them.”

Isn’t WikiLeaks worried that the CIA will act against its staff to stop the series?

“No. That would be certainly counter-productive.”

Why are the Vault 7 files being released now? 

“WikiLeaks published as soon as its verification and analysis were ready.

“In February the Trump administration has issued an Executive Order calling for a ‘Cyberwar’ review to be prepared within 30 days.

“While the review increases the timeliness and relevance of the publication it did not play a role in setting the publication date.”

Read More @ Express.co.uk



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