WikiLeaks on Thursday released new Central Intelligence Agency documents, showing it developed malware to infect “factory fresh” iPhones, while the anti-secrecy organization claimed it has been bugging them since 2008.
“While CIA assets are sometimes used to physically infect systems in the custody of a target,” said WikiLeaks in a statement, “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.”
The statement came before WikiLeaks released a new portion as part of the Vault 7 publication on CIA hacking tools. Many of the documents are more than seven years old—but they reveal the CIA’s systematic efforts to exploit Apple products like the iPhone, MacBooks, and iPad. A tool known as the “sonic screwdriver” was used to infect MacBooks via a USB port. Other CIA tools installed themselves into the computer’s firmware interface, making them virtually undetectable.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 23, 2017
The technology, it added, was developed by the CIA’s Embedded Development Branch, designed to be physically installing it onto phones.
After WikiLeaks published its first batch of CIA documents on March 8, the CIA issued a non-statement, saying it had “no comment on the authenticity of purported intelligence documents released by Wikileaks or on the status of any investigation into the source of the documents.” As of Thursday, the CIA hasn’t responded to the latest leak.
Apple has not yet issued a public response.
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, charged that the CIA effectively “became a giant hacker spy agency,” according to DW.com. “This hacker CIA then stockpiled an enormous quantity of cyberweapons – hundreds of millions of lines of code, more than all of Facebook, in cyberweapons. And then it lost control of all of them.”
Assange, meanwhile, has claimed that only one percent of the CIA files WikiLeaks has in its possession have been published.