Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017,
WikiLeaks begins its new series of
leaks on the U.S.
Central Intelligence Agency.
Code-named "Vault 7"
by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential
documents on the agency.
The first full part
of the series, "Year Zero", comprises 8,761 documents and files from
an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's
for Cyber Intelligence (below image) in Langley, Virgina.
It follows an
introductory disclosure last month of
CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the
lead up to the 2012 presidential election.
Recently, the CIA
lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including,
...and associated documentation.
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.
introduces the scope and direction of the CIA's global covert
hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of "zero day"
weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European
company products, include,
...which are turned into
Since 2001 the CIA
has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S.
National Security Agency (NSA).
The CIA found itself building not
just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of
covert, globe-spanning force - its own substantial fleet of hackers.
The agency's hacking division freed it from having to disclose its
often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic
rival) in order to draw on the NSA's hacking capacities.
By the end of 2016,
the CIA's hacking division, which formally falls under the agency's
for Cyber Intelligence (CCI - below image), had over 5000 registered users and
had produced more than a thousand,
...and other "weaponized" malware.
Such is the scale of the CIA's
undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more codes than
those 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.
In a statement to
WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently
need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA's hacking
capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public
oversight of the agency.
The source wishes to initiate a public
debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and
democratic control of cyberweapons.
Once a single cyber
'weapon' is 'loose' it can spread around the world in seconds, to be
used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.
WikiLeaks editor stated that,
"There is an extreme proliferation risk
in the development of cyber 'weapons'.
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.
But the significance of
'Year Zero' goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and
cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political,
legal and forensic perspective."
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
analyzed, disarmed and published.
Wikileaks has also
decided to Redact (see far below)
and Anonymize some identifying information in "Year Zero" for in
depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA
targets and attack machines throughout,
While we are aware of the imperfect results of any
approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and
note that the quantity of published pages in "Vault 7" part one
("Year Zero") already eclipses the total number of pages published
over the first three years of the
Edward Snowden NSA leaks.
malware targets iPhone, Android, smart TVs
CIA malware and
hacking tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group),
a software development group within CCI (Center for Cyber
Intelligence), a department belonging to the CIA's DDI
(Directorate for Digital Innovation).
The DDI is one
of the five major directorates of the CIA (see above image of the CIA for more details).
The EDG is
responsible for the development, testing and operational support
of all backdoors, exploits, malicious payloads, trojans, viruses
and any other kind of malware used by the CIA in its covert
sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons
with George Orwell's 1984, but "Weeping Angel", developed by the
Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs,
transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most
Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the
United Kingdom's MI5/BTSS.
After infestation, Weeping Angel
places the target TV in a 'Fake-Off' mode, so that the owner
falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In 'Fake-Off' mode
the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room
and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.
As of October
2014 the CIA was also looking at
infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and
trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it
would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable
Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) developed
numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart
phones. Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA
the user's geolocation, audio and text communications as well as
covertly activate the phone's camera and microphone.
iPhone's minority share (14.5%) of the global smart phone market
in 2016, a specialized unit in the CIA's Mobile Development
Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data
iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads.
CIA's arsenal includes
numerous local and remote "zero days" developed by CIA or
obtained from GCHQ, NSA, FBI or purchased from cyber arms
contractors such as Baitshop.
The disproportionate focus on iOS
may be explained by the popularity of the iPhone among social,
political, diplomatic and business elites.
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
"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
techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of,
...by hacking the
"smart" phones that they run on and collecting audio and message
traffic before encryption is applied.
CIA malware targets Windows, OSx, Linux, routers
The CIA also
runs a very substantial effort to infect and control
Microsoft Windows users with its malware.
multiple local and remote weaponized "zero days", air gap
jumping viruses such as "Hammer Drill" which infects software distributed on
infectors for removable media such as USBs, systems to
hide data in images or in covert disk areas ("Brutal Kangaroo") and to
keep its malware infestations going.
Many of these
infection efforts are pulled together by the CIA's
Automated Implant Branch (AIB), which has developed several
attack systems for automated infestation and control of CIA
malware, such as "Assassin" and "Medusa".
Internet infrastructure and webservers are developed by the
Network Devices Branch (NDB).
The CIA has
developed automated multi-platform malware attack and control
systems covering Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux and more,
such as EDB's "HIVE" and the related "Cutthroat" and "Swindle"
tools, which are
described in the examples section far below.
vulnerabilities ("zero days")
In the wake of
Edward Snowden's leaks about the NSA, the U.S. technology
industry secured a commitment from the
Obama administration that
the executive would disclose on an ongoing basis - rather than
hoard - serious vulnerabilities, exploits, bugs or "zero days"
to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers.
vulnerabilities not disclosed to the manufacturers places huge
swathes of the population and critical infrastructure at risk to
foreign intelligence or cyber criminals who independently
discover or hear rumors of the vulnerability.
If the CIA can
discover such vulnerabilities so can others.
government's commitment to the
Equities Process came after significant lobbying by US
technology companies, who risk losing their share of the global
market over real and perceived hidden vulnerabilities.
government stated that it would disclose all pervasive
vulnerabilities discovered after 2010 on an ongoing basis.
documents show that the CIA breached the Obama administration's
commitments. Many of the vulnerabilities used in the CIA's cyber
arsenal are pervasive and some may already have been found by
rival intelligence agencies or cyber criminals.
As an example,
specific CIA malware revealed in "Year Zero" is able to
penetrate, infest and control both the Android phone and iPhone
software that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts.
CIA attacks this software by using undisclosed security
vulnerabilities ("zero days") possessed by the CIA but if the
CIA can hack these phones then so can everyone else who has
obtained or discovered the vulnerability.
As long as the CIA
keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who
make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will
vulnerabilities exist for the population at large, including the
U.S. Cabinet, Congress, top CEOs, system administrators,
security officers and engineers.
By hiding these
security flaws from manufacturers like Apple and Google the CIA
ensures that it can hack everyone at the expense of leaving everyone hackable.
programs are a serious proliferation risk
are not possible to keep under effective control.
proliferation has been restrained by the enormous costs and
visible infrastructure involved in assembling enough fissile
material to produce a critical nuclear mass, cyber 'weapons',
once developed, are very hard to retain.
are in fact just computer programs which can be pirated like any
other. Since they are entirely comprised of information they can
be copied quickly with no marginal cost.
'weapons' is particularly difficult since the same people who
develop and use them have the skills to exfiltrate copies
without leaving traces - sometimes by using the very same
'weapons' against the organizations that contain them.
substantial price incentives for government hackers and
consultants to obtain copies since there is a global
"vulnerability market" that will pay hundreds of thousands to
millions of dollars for copies of such 'weapons'.
contractors and companies who obtain such 'weapons' sometimes
use them for their own purposes, obtaining advantage over their
competitors in selling 'hacking' services.
Over the last
three years the United States intelligence sector, which
consists of government agencies such as the CIA and NSA and
their contractors, such as Booz Allan Hamilton, has been subject
to unprecedented series of data exfiltrations by its own
A number of
intelligence community members not yet publicly named have been
arrested or subject to federal criminal investigations in
on February 8, 2017 a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Harold T.
Martin III with 20 counts of mishandling classified information.
The Department of Justice alleged that it seized some 50,000
gigabytes of information from Harold T. Martin III that he had
obtained from classified programs at NSA and CIA, including the
source code for numerous hacking tools.
Once a single
cyber 'weapon' is 'loose' it can spread around the world in
seconds, to be used by peer states, cyber mafia and teenage
U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt is a covert CIA hacker base
In addition to
its operations in Langley, Virginia the CIA also uses the U.S.
consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering
Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ("Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe" or CCIE) are given
diplomatic ("black") passports and State Department cover.
The instructions for incoming CIA hackers make Germany's
counter-intelligence efforts appear inconsequential:
through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action
story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport"
Cover Story (for this trip)
Q: Why are you here?
A: Supporting technical consultations at the
WikiLeaks publications give further detail on CIA approaches to
secondary screening procedures.
Frankfurt CIA hackers can travel without further border checks
to the 25 European countries that are part of the
border area - including France, Italy and Switzerland.
A number of the
CIA's electronic attack methods are designed for physical
These attack methods are able to penetrate high
security networks that are disconnected from the internet, such
as police record database. In these cases, a CIA officer, agent
or allied intelligence officer acting under instructions,
physically infiltrates the targeted workplace.
The attacker is
provided with a USB containing malware developed for the CIA for
this purpose, which is inserted into the targeted computer. The
attacker then infects and exfiltrates data to removable media.
For example, the CIA attack system
Fine Dining, provides 24 decoy applications for CIA spies to
To witnesses, the spy appears to be running a program
showing videos (e.g VLC), presenting slides (Prezi), playing a
computer game (Breakout2, 2048) or even running a fake virus
scanner (Kaspersky, McAfee, Sophos).
But while the decoy
application is on the screen, the underlying system is
automatically infected and ransacked.
How the CIA dramatically increased proliferation risks
In what is
surely one of the most astounding intelligence own goals in
living memory, the CIA structured its classification regime such
that for the most market valuable part of "Vault 7", the CIA's,
...the agency has little
The CIA made
these systems unclassified.
Why the CIA
chose to make its cyber-arsenal unclassified reveals how concepts
developed for military use do not easily crossover to the
'battlefield' of cyber 'war'.
To attack its
targets, the CIA usually requires that its implants communicate
with their control programs over the internet.
If CIA implants,
Command & Control and Listening Post software were classified,
then CIA officers could be prosecuted or dismissed for violating
rules that prohibit placing classified information onto the
Consequently the CIA has secretly made most of its
cyber spying/war code unclassified. The U.S. government is not
able to assert copyright either, due to restrictions in the U.S.
This means that cyber 'arms' manufactures and
computer hackers can freely "pirate" these 'weapons' if they are
obtained. The CIA has primarily had to rely on obfuscation to
protect its malware secrets.
weapons such as missiles may be fired at the enemy (i.e. into an
unsecured area). Proximity to or impact with the target
detonates the ordnance including its classified parts. Hence
military personnel do not violate classification rules by firing
ordnance with classified parts.
Ordnance will likely explode. If
it does not, that is not the operator's intent.
Over the last
decade U.S. hacking operations have been increasingly dressed up
in military jargon to tap into Department of Defense funding
For instance, attempted "malware injections"
(commercial jargon) or "implant drops" (NSA jargon) are being
called "fires" as if a weapon was being fired.
analogy is questionable.
bombs or missiles, most CIA malware is designed to live for days
or even years after it has reached its 'target'. CIA malware
does not "explode on impact" but rather permanently infests its
target. In order to infect target's device, copies of the
malware must be placed on the target's devices, giving physical
possession of the malware to the target.
To exfiltrate data back
to the CIA or to await further instructions the malware must
communicate with CIA Command & Control (C2) systems placed on
internet connected servers.
But such servers are typically not
approved to hold classified information, so CIA command and
control systems are also made unclassified.
'attack' on a target's computer system is more like a series of
complex stock maneuvers in a hostile take-over bid or the
careful planting of rumors in order to gain control over an
organization's leadership rather than the firing of a weapons
If there is a military analogy to be made, the
infestation of a target is perhaps akin to the execution of a
whole series of military maneuvers against the target's
territory including observation, infiltration, occupation and
Evading forensics and anti-virus
A series of
standards lay out CIA malware infestation patterns which are
likely to assist forensic crime scene investigators as well as,
...attribute and defend against attacks.
"Tradecraft DO's and DON'Ts"
contains CIA rules on how its malware should be written to avoid
fingerprints implicating the "CIA, US government, or its witting
partner companies" in "forensic review".
standards cover the,
...in the target's machines over time.
developed successful attacks against most well known anti-virus
These are documented in,
For example, Comodo was defeated
CIA malware placing itself in the Window's "Recycle Bin".
While Comodo 6.x has a "Gaping Hole of DOOM".
discussed what the NSA's "Equation Group" hackers did wrong and
how the CIA's malware makers could avoid similar exposure.
Engineering Development Group (EDG) management system contains
around 500 different projects (only some of which are documented by
"Year Zero") each with their own sub-projects, malware and hacker
The majority of
these projects relate to tools that are used for,
Another branch of
development focuses on the development and operation of Listening
Posts (LP) and Command and Control (C2) systems used to communicate
with and control CIA implants.
Special projects are used to target
specific hardware from routers to smart TVs.
projects are described below, but see
the table of
contents for the full list of projects described by WikiLeaks'
The CIA's hand
crafted hacking techniques pose a problem for the agency.
it has created forms a "fingerprint" that can be used by
forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks
to the same entity.
analogous to finding the same distinctive knife wound on
multiple separate murder victims. The unique wounding style
creates suspicion that a single murderer is responsible.
As soon one
murder in the set is solved then the other murders also find
Remote Devices Branch's
UMBRAGE group collects and maintains
substantial library of attack techniques 'stolen' from
malware produced in other states including the Russian
and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total
number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving
behind the "fingerprints" of the groups that the attack
techniques were stolen from.
comes with a standardized questionnaire i.e menu that CIA case
officers fill out.
questionnaire is used by the agency's OSB (Operational
Support Branch) to transform the requests of case officers
into technical requirements for hacking attacks (typically "exfiltrating"
information from computer systems) for specific operations.
questionnaire allows the OSB to identify how to adapt existing
tools for the operation, and communicate this to CIA malware
functions as the interface between CIA operational staff and the
relevant technical support staff.
Among the list
of possible targets of the collection are,
'Foreign Intelligence Agencies'
is any reference to extremists or transnational criminals.
Officer' is also asked to specify the environment of the target
like the type of computer, operating system used, Internet
connectivity and installed anti-virus utilities (PSPs) as well
as a list of file types to be exfiltrated like Office documents,
audio, video, images or custom file types.
The 'menu' also
asks for information if recurring access to the target is
possible and how long unobserved access to the computer can be
information is used by the CIA's 'JQJIMPROVISE' software (see
below) to configure a set of CIA malware suited to the specific
needs of an operation.
a toolset for configuration, post-processing, payload setup and
execution vector selection for survey/exfiltration tools
supporting all major operating systems like,
configuration utilities like Margarita allows the NOC (Network
Operation Center) to customize tools based on requirements from
'Fine Dining' questionnaires.
HIVE is a
multi-platform CIA malware suite and its associated control
provides customizable implants for Windows, Solaris, MikroTik
(used in internet routers) and Linux platforms and a Listening
Post (LP)/Command and Control (C2) infrastructure to communicate
with these implants.
are configured to communicate via HTTPS with the webserver of a
cover domain; each operation utilizing these implants has a
separate cover domain and the infrastructure can handle any
number of cover domains.
domain resolves to an IP address that is located at a commercial
VPS (Virtual Private Server) provider.
public-facing server forwards all incoming traffic via a VPN to
a 'Blot' server that handles actual connection requests from
It is setup for optional SSL client authentication: if
a client sends a valid client certificate (only implants can do
that), the connection is forwarded to the 'Honeycomb' toolserver
that communicates with the implant.
a valid certificate is missing (which is the case if someone
tries to open the cover domain website by accident), the traffic
is forwarded to a cover server that delivers an unsuspicious
toolserver receives exfiltrated information from the implant; an
operator can also task the implant to execute jobs on the target
computer, so the toolserver acts as a C2 (command and control)
server for the implant.
functionality (though limited to Windows) is provided by the
developer guides for HIVE.
published as soon as its verification and analysis were ready.
In February the Trump administration has issued an Executive
Order calling for a "Cyberwar" review to be prepared within 30
review increases the timeliness and relevance of the publication
it did not play a role in setting the publication date.
addresses and external IP addresses have been redacted in the
released pages (70,875 redactions in total) until further
analysis is complete.
items may have been redacted that are not employees,
contractors, targets or otherwise related to the agency,
but are, for example, authors of documentation for
otherwise public projects that are used by the agency.
Identity vs. person:
redacted names are replaced by user IDs (numbers) to
allow readers to assign multiple pages to a single
author. Given the redaction process used a single person
may be represented by more than one assigned identifier
but no identifier refers to more than one real person.
Archive attachments (zip, tar.gz, ...),
replaced with a PDF listing all the file names in the
archive. As the archive content is assessed it may be
made available; until then the archive is redacted.
Attachments with other binary content,
replaced by a hex dump of the content to prevent
accidental invocation of binaries that may have been
infected with weaponized CIA malware. As the content is
assessed it may be made available; until then the
content is redacted.
Tens of thousands of routable IP addresses references,
(including more than 22 thousand within the United
States) that correspond to possible targets, CIA covert
listening post servers, intermediary and test systems,
are redacted for further exclusive investigation.
Binary files of non-public origin,
only available as dumps to prevent accidental invocation
of CIA malware infected binaries.
organizational chart (far above image) corresponds to the material published
by WikiLeaks so far.
organizational structure of the CIA below the level of
Directorates is not public, the placement of the EDG and its
branches within the org chart of the agency is reconstructed
from information contained in the documents released so far.
It is intended
to be used as a rough outline of the internal organization;
please be aware that the reconstructed org chart is incomplete
and that internal reorganizations occur frequently.
contains 7818 web pages with 943 attachments from the internal
development groupware. The software used for this purpose is
called Confluence, a proprietary software from Atlassian.
this system (like in Wikipedia) have a version history that can
provide interesting insights on how a document evolved over
time; the 7818 documents include these page histories for 1136
The order of
named pages within each level is determined by date (oldest
first). Page content is not present if it was originally
dynamically created by the Confluence software (as indicated on
the re-constructed page).
period is covered?
The years 2013
to 2016. The sort order of the pages within each level is
determined by date (oldest first).
obtained the CIA's creation/last modification date for each page
but these do not yet appear for technical reasons. Usually the
date can be discerned or approximated from the content and the
If it is
critical to know the exact time/date contact WikiLeaks.
"Vault 7" is a
substantial collection of material about CIA activities obtained
When was each
part of "Vault 7" obtained?
Part one was
obtained recently and covers through 2016. Details on the other
parts will be available at the time of publication.
Is each part
of "Vault 7" from a different source?
Details on the
other parts will be available at the time of publication.
What is the
total size of "Vault 7"?
The series is
the largest intelligence publication in history.
WikiLeaks obtain each part of "Vault 7"?
WikiLeaks to not reveal information that might help identify
WikiLeaks worried that the CIA will act against its staff to
stop the series?
No. That would
be certainly counter-productive.
already 'mined' all the best stories?
has intentionally not written up hundreds of impactful stories
to encourage others to find them and so create expertise in the
area for subsequent parts in the series. They're there.
Look. Those who
demonstrate journalistic excellence may be considered for early
access to future parts.
journalists find all the best stories before me?
are very considerably more stories than there are journalists or
academics who are in a position to write them.