WikiLeaks publishes CIA hacking tactics for Apple products

WikiLeaks on Thursday released new documents from its CIA leak outlining how the agency hacked Apple products.

“Dark Matter” is the second batch of leaks from a CIA archive WikiLeaks has nicknamed “Vault 7” that describes hacking techniques the agency used.

So far, all of the techniques have been for targeted surveillance instead of bulk surveillance, which the NSA would conduct. Many of the techniques require the CIA to have physical access to devices to attack them.

The documents also range in age and may no longer describe current threats. Apple announced after the first release of documents that many of the security flaws mentioned in that archive had long since been patched.

{mosads}One user manual released in Dark Matter describes a “Sonic Screwdriver” — a technique taking its name from Doctor Who’s utility tool — as a way to use a modified Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet network adapter or, potentially, other modified hardware to load malware while a Mac is booting. That document is dated 2012.

Another document describes “DarkSeaSkies,” a hacking technique that lurks in the firmware of MacBook Airs version 1.1 controlling hardware that is not run by an operating system. The DarkSeaSkies documents describe similar implants for iPhones, but they are dated 2009, and may not still be a working attack for either.

Other documents provide historic information for “DerStarke,” a firmware attack leaked in the last set of WikiLeaks documents. The documents describe it and related malware in 2013, before its 2016 version.

Lawmakers and intelligence officials have been more concerned that the documents were stolen from the CIA than the sensitivity of any of the documents released.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said that WikiLeaks head Julian Assange should spend the rest of his life in “an orange jumpsuit” following the first document dump.


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