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CIA hacking into smart TVs, iPhones, Android devices

CIA hacking into smart TVs, iPhones, Android devices
If you have switched off the TV set and begun a confidential discussion in your drawing room, beware as the TV set may be spying on you — courtesy the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

In a new set of leaked documents, global whistleblower agency Wikileaks has claimed that CIA has developed new malware and hacking tools that can even hack into your TV.

Not just TVs, the CIA's Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) has developed numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smartphones like iPhones and Android-based devices. The tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group), a software development group within CCI (Centre for Cyber Intelligence), a department belonging to the CIA's DDI (Directorate for Digital Innovation). "Weeping Angel", developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is one such malware.

One such attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom's MI5/BTSS, Wikileaks claimed. 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 the '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. On the other hand, 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. Despite iPhone's minority share (14.5 percent) of the global smart phone market in 2016, a specialised unit in the CIA's Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads.

"The disproportionate focus on iOS may be explained by the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites," WikiLeaks said. A similar unit targets Google's Android which is used to run the majority of the world's smart phones (85 percent), including Samsung, HTC and Sony. The new techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the "smart" phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) operators have hacked into Pakistani mobile networks and have been spying on hundreds of IP addresses in the country, WikiLeaks has claimed. "Hundreds of NSA cyber weapons variants publicly released including code showing hacking of Pakistan mobile system," WikiLeaks tweeted. The revelation came as a hacker group, which had previously released data suggesting the US agency may have been monitoring hundreds of IP addresses in Pakistan, released a new cache of information detailing how the agency accessed private and public networks.


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