I’m concerned that too much power will end up in the hands of too few. It’s always in somebody’s best interests to promote enemies, real or imagined. – Bill Sullivan (Robert DeNiro,), “The Good Shepherd”, 2006, (A movie about the early history of the CIA.)
USA Today reports that
A division of the Central Intelligence Agency stockpiled hacking techniques culled from other hackers, giving the agency the ability to leave behind the “fingerprints” of the outside hackers when it broke into electronic devices, the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks alleges as it released thousands of documents Tuesday.
WikiLeaks says it acquired the documents from a source who wished to propel a debate about whether CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed the agency’s legal powers. If authentic, the documents appear to show that the CIA’s hacking division has developed software that enables the agency to break into smartphones, computers and even turn Internet-connected televisions into microphones.
The documents also suggest that one of the agency’s divisions – the Remote Development Branch’s UMBRAGE Group – may have been cataloguing hacking methods from outside hackers, including in Russia, that would have allowed the agency to mask their identity by employing the method during espionage.
“With UMBRAGE 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,” Wikileaks said in a statement.
The CIA, which keeps its organizational structure below the directorate level classified, declined to comment on the WikiLeaks document release and would not confirm that the hacking and cataloguing programs exists. USA TODAY has not been able to independently confirm the authenticity of the documents nor seen anything in them so far to indicate the tools were used in the U.S. – or at all.
The agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence(CCI) produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware, according to the documents. The malware and hacking tools were developed by the agency’s Engineering Development Group (EDG) within the CCI.
The EDG described its mission innocuously in one document: “To be the premiere development shop customized hardware and software solutions for Information Operations: utilizing operating system knowledge, hardware design, software craftsmanship, and network expertise to support the (Information Operations Center) Mission.” Another document says the EDG “develops software exploits and implants for high priority target cell phones for intelligence collection.”
The documents describe how the engineering team develops software to target individual cellphones for surveillance, suggesting that it is not attempting to infiltrate cellphones in bulk. For example, its guide says “completed software implants must be tested on an exact version … of the target phone.”
The documents also describe, in very general terms, collaboration among U.S. and other intelligence services to hack into various electronic devices. For example, one document suggests the U.S. National Security Agency purchased an exploit called “Earth/Eve,” which it shared with the CIA, and with GCHQ, the Britain’s main signals intelligence agency. The same documents list another exploit purchased under an NSA contract but “implemented by” GCHQ.
UMBRAGE catalogued software that tracks what physical actions a user is taking through the keyboard or mouse, collects passwords, captures webcams, and other hacking techniques, the documents show.
Among the treasure trove of documents, one refers to two common ways to hack a webcam operating on a Windows system. In another document, analysts comment on the pros and cons of certain key-logging hacks. Other documents note “anti-sandboxing” techniques that agency hackers can use to avoid malware detection by the subject of their surveillance.
If the release of the documents—which Wikileaks dubbed the Vault 7 archive—are proven to be authentic, it would mark the most significant leak of classified U.S. intelligence documents since the release of tens of thousands of documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden in 2013.
Nathan White, a senior legislative manager at the international group Access Now, said that the stockpiling of digital vulnerabilities—without working with technology companies to patch them—hurts the cause of digital security.
“Many of these vulnerabilities could have been responsibly disclosed and patched,” White said. “This leak proves the inherent digital risk of stockpiling vulnerabilities rather than fixing them.”
Rush Limbaugh had some interesting things to say about these revelations, especially the UMBRAGE Program…
In other words, the CIA has the ability to hack anybody they want and make it look like the Russians are doing it or make it look like the ChiComs are doing it or make it look like the Israelis are doing it. They have the ability to do this. They have the ability to mask and mock various other state actors and make it look like — so I think because of everything that we’re learning here, the danger that Donald Trump has faced ever since he won the election is greater than we’ve ever known. And it is obvious to me that this whole business — well, I say obvious, I’m leaning toward being near certain that this entire pretext of Trump working with the Russians to affect the outcome of the election, folks, it is so ridiculous.
The Democrats have to know and they have to have known all along it didn’t really happen. There isn’t any evidence for it, and nobody has come forth in all these media reports, they’ve found not a single source that can confirm this, because it didn’t happen. But that’s only the pretext. The allegation is what permitted this ongoing investigation of Trump and, say, of Michael Flynn and whatever else was going on.
But once you establish in the minds of the media and in the minds of some in the public that the election was fraudulent, that somebody tampered with our sacred electoral process and that it might have been Donald Trump himself working with the Russians, why, then the door’s open wide and everybody wants you to get to the bottom of it. Which is exactly what the media and the Democrats, the American left, the establishment, exactly what they wanted, a pretext to have a never-ending investigation of Trump.
All the while, I think they probably knew there was nothing to the actual substance of the allegation. And in fact, the longer it went with no proof, the better, as evidenced by people like Thomas Friedman. (paraphrased) “Yep, there’s no evidence; that’s why we must investigate. It’s a serious charge! If it really happened, we’ve gotta find out. We’ve gotta get to the bottom of it.” And that opened the floodgates. That opened the doors of possibility for the establishment, the CIA, the deep state, the Democrats, the media to have never-ending investigations.
For the FBI to have a never-ending investigation of Trump and of his campaign and of his presidency, of his administration, of the people in it, and it’s exactly what we’re watching now: A never-ending investigation of every Trump appointee or nominee, an attempt to stop as many Trump executive orders as possible. Now, it’s gonna take weeks or longer to understand all the implications of the data in the WikiLeaks CIA dump. But one matter is abundantly clear to me. Someone who really supports Trump is trying to counter what’s happening to him.
There’s a whistleblower somewhere. I don’t know if it’s another Edward Snowden, but somebody in there has leaked these documents to WikiLeaks. Folks, 8,000. It’s called Vault 7, and it’s gonna take a long time to go through all of these. But it looks to me like somebody who supports Trump somewhere in the deep state is trying to impede and impugn the integrity of all of these investigations. And at the same time I think whoever did this, if it’s one person or many — whoever he, she, or they are — there’s no doubt in my mind that the Obama administration’s reputation is also under attack here. Because most of what the WikiLeaks CIA release contains is what the CIA has been doing during the Obama years, specifically 2013 to 2016. And you throw Trump’s weekend tweet into this that Obama was hacking him. I want to go back to something I said yesterday about the FISA court and these warrants. When it comes to national security warrants, it’s entirely possible that Trump has seen them. His attorney general, Jeff Sessions, could go get the applications. It is entirely… Now, no FISA warrant to my knowledge has ever been made public, since the FISA court was first begun in the Carter years in 1978.
I don’t think any of these requests, these warrants, applications for warrants have ever been released. But somebody in any administration can go look at them. They’re precisely in the executive branch, and the president and his attorney general would have unquestionable, unquestioned access to them. I find it fascinating that Trump’s allegation is timed in such a way that maybe somebody’s actually seen evidence that such a request was made to wiretap Trump Tower or Trump personally.
But you look at Trump’s weekend tweets, this CIA leak to WikiLeaks or the dump to WikiLeaks about the CIA is even more and more curious. The timing is exquisite.
So, has someone released this new information to WikiLeaks on behalf of Trump?
Is Trump absolutely right concerning all of his accusations about the “shadow government” within our Federal Government”?
Does it, indeed, reach all the way to George Soros, Barack Hussein Obama, Valerie Jarret, and other key players in Obama’s Administration?
How many “Deep State” holdovers from the Obama Administration are, even now, working to sabotage the plans of President Donald J. Trump?
Who can the President trust?
I wrote the other day that I thought that we were all in the middle of a Tom Clancy Novel being played out in real life.
The only way for a happy ending to this real life spy novel is for the 45th President of the United States to fulfill another one of his campaign Promises and “Drain the Swamp”, i.e., the Justice Department and all of the “alphabet agencies” of disloyal embedded operatives left behind by previous Administrations.
As Julius Caesar found out the hard way, in government, there is always someone looking to stab you in the back.
President Trump needs to get this accomplished as soon as possible.
After all, the Ides of March is only a week from today.
And there is, enough back stabbing going on already.
Until He Comes,