Screen shot from Mass Effect 3 device hacking mini-game.

NextGov Emerging Tech: Testing Some of the CIA Hacking Tools

By: John Breeden II
March 20, 2017

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

There is still a lot we don’t know regarding the WikiLeaks exposure of CIA cybersecurity. According to what has been released so far, the CIA, through their Remote Devices Branch, called UMBRAGE, maintains a library of hacking tools they have “stolen” from other groups. It goes on to explain that the CIA can use the tools to compromise iOS and Android phones, turning them into listening devices, and can also compromise smart televisions. It’s interesting to note that the documents claim that the CIA acquires these tools from others, instead of making them in-house.

Screen shot from Mass Effect 3 device hacking mini-game.
Screen shot from Mass Effect 3 device hacking mini-game.

Several of these tools, or similar tools, were already sitting in the TWB virus and hack tool zoo, on an air-gapped server used to test and review products. We took one for a spin that turns smart televisions into spy devices, and found that while there are still many problems and limitations with this kind of tech, that in general, most of what is described in the WikiLeaks documents is possible.

Read all about how we turned smart TVs in conference rooms and hotels into spying devices that could easily listen in, and sometimes watch, what was going on in the same room. It’s exclusive to NextGov.