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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: CIA Hacking Tools

Ex-CIA Accused of Leaking Secret Hacking Tools to WikiLeaks Gets Mistrial

Ex-CIA Accused of Leaking Secret Hacking Tools to WikiLeaks Gets Mistrial
March 09, 2020Mohit Kumar
A federal judge in New York on Monday declared a mistrial in the case of a former CIA software engineer who was accused of stealing a massive trove of the agency's classified hacking and tools and leaking it to WikiLeaks whistleblower website. While the jury was unable to reach a verdict on eight counts of the theft and transmission of CIA's confidential documents, it did find ex-CIA Joshua Schulte guilty on two counts of contempt of court and making false statements to the FBI investigators. Schulte's lawyers last month asked the court for a mistrial in this case claiming the prosecutors withheld evidence that could exonerate his client during the four-week trial in the Manhattan federal court. Potentially, as a result of this, jurors failed to reach a unanimous agreement on the most severe charges against Schulte after deliberating since last week. Schulte, who designed hacking tools and malware for both the CIA and NSA to break into adversaries computers,

Researchers Claim CIA Was Behind 11-Year-Long Hacking Attacks Against China

Researchers Claim CIA Was Behind 11-Year-Long Hacking Attacks Against China
March 03, 2020Wang Wei
Qihoo 360, one of the most prominent cybersecurity firms, today published a new report accusing the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to be behind an 11-year-long hacking campaign against several Chinese industries and government agencies. The targeted industry sectors include aviation organizations, scientific research institutions, petroleum, and Internet companies—which, if true, gives the CIA the ability to do "unexpected things." According to the researchers, these cyberattacks were carried out between September 2008 and June 2019, and most of the targets were located in Beijing, Guangdong, and Zhejiang. "We speculate that in the past eleven years of infiltration attacks, the CIA may have already grasped the most classified business information of China, even of many other countries in the world," the researchers said . "It does not even rule out the possibility that now the CIA is able to track down the real-time global flight status, passe

Ex-CIA employee charged with leaking 'Vault 7' hacking tools to Wikileaks

Ex-CIA employee charged with leaking 'Vault 7' hacking tools to Wikileaks
June 19, 2018Mohit Kumar
A 29-year-old former CIA computer programmer who was charged with possession of child pornography last year has now been charged with masterminding the largest leak of classified information in the agency's history. Joshua Adam Schulte , who once created malware for both the CIA and NSA to break into adversaries computers, was indicted Monday by the Department of Justice on 13 charges of allegedly stealing and transmitting thousands of classified CIA documents , software projects , and hacking utilities . Schulte has also been suspected of leaking the stolen archive of documents to anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, who then began publishing the classified information in March 2017 in a series of leaks under the name " Vault 7 ." It is yet unconfirmed whether Schulte leaked documents to WikiLeaks and if yes, then when, but he had already been a suspect since January 2017 of stealing classified national defense information from the CIA in 2016. According to

Vault 8: WikiLeaks Releases Source Code For Hive - CIA's Malware Control System

Vault 8: WikiLeaks Releases Source Code For Hive - CIA's Malware Control System
November 09, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Almost two months after releasing details of 23 different secret CIA hacking tool projects under Vault 7 series , Wikileaks today announced a new Vault 8 series that will reveal source codes and information about the backend infrastructure developed by the CIA hackers. Not just announcement, but the whistleblower organisation has also published its first batch of Vault 8 leak, releasing source code and development logs of Project Hive —a significant backend component the agency used to remotely control its malware covertly. In April this year, WikiLeaks disclosed a brief information about Project Hive , revealing that the project is an advanced command-and-control server (malware control system) that communicates with malware to send commands to execute specific tasks on the targets and receive exfiltrated information from the target machines. Hive is a multi-user all-in-one system that can be used by multiple CIA operators to remotely control multiple malware implants used

Here's How CIA Spies On Its Intelligence Liaison Partners Around the World

Here's How CIA Spies On Its Intelligence Liaison Partners Around the World
August 24, 2017Swati Khandelwal
WikiLeaks has just published another Vault 7 leak, revealing how the CIA spies on their intelligence partners around the world, including FBI, DHS and the NSA, to covertly collect data from their systems. The CIA offers a biometric collection system—with predefined hardware, operating system, and software—to its intelligence liaison partners around the world that helps them voluntary share collected biometric data on their systems with each other. But since no agency share all of its collected biometric data with others, the Office of Technical Services (OTS) within CIA developed a tool to secretly exfiltrate data collections from their systems. Dubbed ExpressLane , the newly revealed CIA project details about the spying software that the CIA agents manually installs as part of a routine upgrade to the Biometric system. The leaked CIA documents reveal that the OTS officers, who maintain biometric collection systems installed at liaison services, visit their premises and se

CouchPotato: CIA Hacking Tool to Remotely Spy On Video Streams in Real-Time

CouchPotato: CIA Hacking Tool to Remotely Spy On Video Streams in Real-Time
August 10, 2017Swati Khandelwal
After disclosing CIA's strategies to hijack and manipulate webcams and microphones to corrupt or delete recordings, WikiLeaks has now published another Vault 7 leak , revealing CIA's ability to spy on video streams remotely in real-time. Dubbed ' CouchPotato ,' document leaked from the CIA details how the CIA agents use a remote tool to stealthy collect RTSP/H.264 video streams. Real Time Streaming Protocol, or RTSP, is a network control protocol designed for use in entertainment and communication systems for controlling streaming media servers. CouchPotato gives CIA hackers ability to "collect either the stream as a video file (AVI) or capture still images (JPG) of frames from the stream that are of significant change from a previously captured frame," a leaked CIA manual reads. The tool utilises FFmpeg for video and image encoding and decoding and Real Time Streaming Protocol connectivity. The CouchPotato tool works stealthily without leaving

This is How CIA Disables Security Cameras During Hollywood-Style Operations

This is How CIA Disables Security Cameras During Hollywood-Style Operations
August 03, 2017Swati Khandelwal
In last 20 years, we have seen hundreds of caper/heist movies where spies or bank robbers hijack surveillance cameras of secure premises to either stop recording or set up an endless loop for covert operations without leaving any evidence. Whenever I see such scenes in a movie, I wonder and ask myself: Does this happen in real-life? Yes, it does, trust me—at least CIA agents are doing this. WikiLeaks has just unveiled another classified CIA project, dubbed ' Dumbo ,' which details how CIA agents hijack and manipulate webcams and microphones in Hollywood style "to gain and exploit physical access to target computers in CIA field operations." The Dumbo CIA project involves a USB thumb drive equipped with a Windows hacking tool that can identify installed webcams and microphones, either connected locally, wired or wirelessly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Once identified, the Dumbo program allows the CIA agents to: Mute all microphones Disables all network ad

3 New CIA-developed Hacking Tools For MacOS & Linux Exposed

3 New CIA-developed Hacking Tools For MacOS & Linux Exposed
July 27, 2017Swati Khandelwal
WikiLeaks has just published a new set of classified documents linked to another CIA project, dubbed ' Imperial ,' which reveals details of at least three CIA-developed hacking tools and implants designed to target computers running Apple Mac OS X and different flavours of Linux operating systems. If you are a regular reader of THN, you must be aware that this latest revelation by the whistleblower organisation is the part of an ongoing CIA-Vault 7 leaks, marking it as the 18th batch in the series. If you are unaware of the Vault 7 leaks, you can head on to the second of this article for having a brief look on all the leaks at once. Achilles — Tool to Backdoor Mac OS X Disk Images Dubbed Achilles , the hacking tool allows CIA operators to combine malicious Trojan applications with a legitimate Mac OS app into a disk image installer (.DMG) file. The binding tool, the shell script is written in Bash, gives the CIA operators "one or more desired operator specified e

How CIA Agents Covertly Steal Data From Hacked Smartphones (Without Internet)

How CIA Agents Covertly Steal Data From Hacked Smartphones (Without Internet)
July 13, 2017Swati Khandelwal
WikiLeaks has today published the 16th batch of its ongoing Vault 7 leak , this time instead of revealing new malware or hacking tool, the whistleblower organisation has unveiled how CIA operatives stealthy collect and forward stolen data from compromised smartphones. Previously we have reported about several CIA hacking tools, malware and implants used by the agency to remotely infiltrate and steal data from the targeted systems or smartphones. However, this time neither Wikileaks nor the leaked CIA manual clearly explains how the agency operatives were using this tool. But, since we have been covering every CIA leak from the very first day, we have understood a possible scenario and have illustrated how this newly revealed tool was being used. Explained: How CIA Highrise Project Works In general, the malware uses the internet connection to send stolen data after compromising a machine to the attacker-controlled server (listening posts), but in the case of smartphones,

Wikileaks Unveils CIA Implants that Steal SSH Credentials from Windows & Linux PCs

Wikileaks Unveils CIA Implants that Steal SSH Credentials from Windows & Linux PCs
July 06, 2017Swati Khandelwal
WikiLeaks has today published the 15th batch of its ongoing Vault 7 leak , this time detailing two alleged CIA implants that allowed the agency to intercept and exfiltrate SSH (Secure Shell) credentials from targeted Windows and Linux operating systems using different attack vectors. Secure Shell or SSH is a cryptographic network protocol used for remote login to machines and servers securely over an unsecured network. Dubbed BothanSpy — implant for Microsoft Windows Xshell client, and Gyrfalcon — targets the OpenSSH client on various distributions of Linux OS, including CentOS, Debian, RHEL (Red Hat), openSUSE and Ubuntu. Both implants steal user credentials for all active SSH sessions and then sends them to a CIA-controlled server. BothanSpy — Implant for Windows OS BothanSpy is installed as a Shellterm 3.x extension on the target machine and only works if Xshell is running on it with active sessions. Xshell is a powerful terminal emulator that supports SSH, SFTP,

Wikileaks Reveals CIA Malware that Hacks & Spy On Linux Computers

Wikileaks Reveals CIA Malware that Hacks & Spy On Linux Computers
June 30, 2017Swati Khandelwal
WikiLeaks has just published a new batch of the ongoing Vault 7 leak , this time detailing an alleged CIA project that allowed the agency to hack and remotely spy on computers running the Linux operating systems. Dubbed OutlawCountry , the project allows the CIA hackers to redirect all outbound network traffic on the targeted computer to CIA controlled computer systems for exfiltrate and infiltrate data. The OutlawCountry Linux hacking tool consists of a kernel module, which the CIA hackers load via shell access to the targeted system and create a hidden Netfilter table with an obscure name on a target Linux user. "The new table allows certain rules to be created using the "iptables" command. These rules take precedence over existing rules, and are only visible to an administrator if the table name is known. When the Operator removes the kernel module, the new table is also removed," CIA's leaked  user manual reads. Although the installation and persi

Brutal Kangaroo: CIA-developed Malware for Hacking Air-Gapped Networks Covertly

Brutal Kangaroo: CIA-developed Malware for Hacking Air-Gapped Networks Covertly
June 22, 2017Swati Khandelwal
WikiLeaks has published a new batch of the ongoing Vault 7 leak , this time detailing a tool suite – which is being used by the CIA for Microsoft Windows that targets "closed networks by air gap jumping using thumb drives," mainly implemented in enterprises and critical infrastructures. Air-gapped computers that are isolated from the Internet or other external networks are believed to be the most secure computers on the planet have become a regular target in recent years. Dubbed Brutal Kangaroo (v1.2.1), the tool suit was allegedly designed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in year 2012 to infiltrate a closed network or air-gapped computer within an organization or enterprise without requiring any direct access. The previous version of Brutal Kangaroo was named as EZCheese , which was exploiting a vulnerability that was zero-day until March 2015, though the newer version was using " unknown link file vulnerability (Lachesis/RiverJack) related to the lib

Wikileaks Unveils 'Cherry Blossom' — Wireless Hacking System Used by CIA

Wikileaks Unveils 'Cherry Blossom' — Wireless Hacking System Used by CIA
June 15, 2017Swati Khandelwal
WikiLeaks has published a new batch of the ongoing Vault 7 leak , this time detailing a framework – which is being used by the CIA for monitoring the Internet activity of the targeted systems by exploiting vulnerabilities in Wi-Fi devices. Dubbed " Cherry Blossom ," the framework was allegedly designed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with the help of Stanford Research Institute (SRI International), an American nonprofit research institute, as part of its 'Cherry Bomb' project. Cherry Blossom is basically a remotely controllable firmware-based implant for wireless networking devices, including routers and wireless access points (APs), which exploits router vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access and then replace firmware with custom Cherry Blossom firmware. "An implanted device [ called Flytrap ] can then be used to monitor the internet activity of and deliver software exploits to targets of interest." a leaked CIA manual  reads . "The wi
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