WikiLeaks on Tuesday released thousands of documents that allegedly detail CIA software tools used to break into technology such as smartphones, internet-connected televisions and computers.
While the trove of files dumped by the anti-secrecy organization have not yet been verified, WikiLeaks has a long-standing track record of sharing top-secret government documents.
White Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment on the documents during his press briefing Tuesdday afternoon.
The group boasted that its latest collection of classified information is bigger in size and significance than the collection of National Security Agency documents revealed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The radical transparency organization in an online statement said the CIA had recently lost control of a huge arsenal of hacking tools, as well as the documents associated with them.
The law enforcement organization — which has not confirmed whether the documents are authentic — maintains its own hacking practices, specifically to be used for espionage.
WikiLeaks on Tuesday initially released nearly 9,000 files “from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence” as the first part of its mass information dump.
The archive material in its entirety is made up of millions of lines of computer code — the more sensitive parts of which were redacted — designed by the CIA to steal data from specific targets by subverting ordinary technology appliances.
WikiLeaks claimed the CIA, with the help of other intelligence services, figured out how to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging apps like WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram. The group said government hackers have the ability to access smart phones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”
The site added the CIA additionally failed to disclose security vulnerabilities to software manufacturers, ultimately opening up the technology to rival agencies and nations.
WikiLeaks alleged to have received the files — nicknamed “Vault 7” — from a former CIA contractor, noting that the “archive appears to have been circulated by former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner.”
A computer security researcher at the University of Berkley told the Washington Post the documents — dated between 2013 and 2016 — appear to be the real deal.
“At first glance,” the data release “is probably legitimate or contains a lot of legitimate stuff, which means somebody managed to extract a lot of data from a classified CIA system and is willing to let the world know that,” Nicholas Weaver said, noting it’s incredibly difficult to fake a large quantity of data.
WikiLeaks said that it would only publish a portion of the archive “until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program.”