CIA software can secretly turn everyday electronics like smartphones and high-tech TVs into listening devices to spy on unsuspecting users, WikiLeaks claimed in a massive document dump Tuesday.
Some of the computer programs target the iOS software that runs Apple iPhones as well as Google’s Android operating system, which does the same for phones built by Samsung, HTC and Sony, WikiLeaks said.
The “weaponized” software also reportedly provides techniques to defeat the encryption abilities of popular apps including WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Wiebo, which claim to supply users with secure and private communications.
One program, known as “Weeping Angel,” can even be used to infect Samsung “smart” TVs and covertly activate their built-in microphones to record conversations and then transmit them over the internet, WikiLeaks said.
The documents also reveal that the CIA as of 2014 was “looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks,” WikiLeaks said.
“The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” WikiLeaks suggested.
Although it posted online nearly 9,000 documents and files related to the Orwellian tools — a cache it called “Year Zero — WikiLeaks said it had decided to hold off on releasing the actual software.
“WikiLeaks has carefully reviewed the ‘Year Zero’ disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should be analyzed, disarmed and published,” the hack clearinghouse said in a press release.
There is nothing in the WikiLeaks documents to suggest that the CIA — which is charged with obtaining foreign intelligence for national security purposes — uses any of these devices to spy on American citizens.
The CIA refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the WikiLeaks information, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer wouldn’t comment, saying it “has not been fully evaluated.”
A retired CIA operative told The Post that the WikiLeaks disclosure could cripple the agency’s high-tech surveillance capabilities.
“This essentially gives our enemies a playbook on how we go about our clandestine cyber-operations,” the former agent said.
“This will be bad for the agency. They will have to re-examine its procedures for doing this type of work.”
Cybersecurity experts said the material appeared genuine.
Jake Williams of Rendition InfoSec, who has experience dealing with government hackers, noted the files’ repeated references to operation security.
“I can’t fathom anyone fabricated that amount of operational security concern,” he said. “It rings true to me.”
Brian Hein, director of strategic initiatives at Flashpoint, said: “While we are still assessing the contents of the leak . . . the source appears legitimate.”
WikiLeaks said the “Year Zero” release details the development of “more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other ‘weaponized’ malware” created by a “substantial fleet of hackers” working for the CIA since 2001, the year of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The tools have names such as Time Stomper, Fight Club, Jukebox, Bartender, Wild Turkey, Margarita and RickyBobby — the name of Will Ferrell’s character in the 2006 movie “Talladega Nights.”
In addition to outlining the programs’ snooping capabilities, the documents describe ways to inject malicious code into computers operating Microsoft Windows, even if they’re running anti-virus programs.
Methods are discussed for defeating security products produced by Kaspersky Lab, BitDefender, AVG Technologies, F-Secure and Rising Antivirus, with CIA hackers apparently quoted boasting about their abilities in youthful slang.
“You know we got the dankest Trojans and collection tools,” one comment says.
WikiLeaks said “Year Zero” would be just the first in a series of releases involving the CIA.
The entire trove has been code-named “Vault 7” by the rogue group, which called it “the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.”
WikiLeaks has previously released huge caches of classified documents leaked by US Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning — whose 35-year prison sentence for espionage was commuted in January by then-President Barack Obama — and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who’s living in asylum in Russia.
During the 2016 presidential race, it also published thousands of emails sent by top Democratic officials, which US intelligence agencies have said were hacked by Moscow to help Donald Trump win the White House over Hillary Clinton.
WikiLeaks has denied having ties to Russian spy agencies.
WikiLeaks said the “Year Zero” material came from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Va.
It claimed the CIA had recently “lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal,” comprising “more than several hundred millions of code” that amount to “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”
WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange, who’s been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 to avoid sex-assault charges in Sweden, called the “Year Zero” release “exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”
“There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons,’ ” he said.
“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.”