Wikileaks claims that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has a specialized unit within its Center for Cyber Intelligence that is devoted to developing and obtaining zero-day exploits for Android devices, in addition to one targeting Apple’s iOS. A zero-day exploit is one unknown to Google or security researchers, so cannot be protected against.

A similar unit targets Google’s Android which is used to run the majority of the world’s smart phones (~85%) including Samsung, HTC and Sony. 1.15 billion Android powered phones were sold last year. “Year Zero” shows that as of 2016 the CIA had 24 “weaponized” Android “zero days” which it has developed itself and obtained from GCHQ, NSA and cyber arms contractors.

The CIA is also said to have teams working on attacking Windows and Samsung TVs, ‘which are turned into covert microphones.’

Wikileaks further claims that the CIA recently ‘lost control’ of the majority of the malware it uses to attack devices …

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

The site has today released a total of 8,761 documents which it says backs its claims, and that these are merely the first part of what will be a series of leaks.

Wikileaks says that the hacking unit is operating at such a scale that it is effectively a second NSA.

By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

The site says that it has redacted from the documents identifying information for ‘tens of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States.’

The documents have been posted on Wikileaks.

Image: BBC