WikiLeaks released another set of documents on Thursday 23rd March and this time the target is CIA. The ‘Dark Matter’ released in WikiLeaks Vault 7 series reveal the hacking techniques that the CIA used to go through Apple devices.
According to the documents, CIA uses ‘NightSkies’, a type of firmware that was “expressly designed to be physically installed onto factory fresh iPhones. i.e the CIA has been infecting the iPhone supply chain of its targets since at least 2008.” The malware continues to exist even if the user reinstalls their operating system. NightSkies targets iPhone 3G and is capable of retrieving files like call logs, contact lists, and even execute some commands.
To infect the MacBooks, the CIA is alleged to use a tool called “Sonic Screwdriver” through USB or Thunderbolt port which are likely installed before the product gets delivered to the customer.
The release mentions of a possibility that agents gain access to the supply chain to infect the phones and macs:
“While CIA assets are sometimes used to physically infect systems in the custody of a target it is likely that many CIA physical access attacks have infected the targeted organization’s supply chain including by interdicting mail orders and other shipments (opening, infecting, and resending) leaving the United States or otherwise.”
A lot of the documents are over seven years old which shows that CIA has been getting into Apple products for a very long time now. Security experts say such exploits are likely, but since they require physical access to the device, thus they are used for targetted individuals and the common people need to worry about them. The CEO of Securosis, a credible security research firm, Rich Mogull even said, “The most notable part of this latest WikiLeaks release is that it shows the CIA doing exactly what we pay them to — exploit specific targets with limited attacks to support our national interests.”
In the recent leaks before this, WikiLeaks disclosed a lot of other CIA hacking tools. Apparently, a common user needs not worry about it. Sit back and relax because they are just doing their job, aren’t they?