If you weren’t already worried about smartphone security and government surveillance, WikiLeaks has more disturbing news.
According to the newest leak — dubbed “Dark Matter” by the controversial organization — the Central Intelligence Agency has been bugging “factory fresh” iPhone devices in the supply chain since at least 2008. Perhaps even more terrifying is that the particular bug in question affects the device’s firmware, meaning that the device will still be compromised even if the operating system is deleted or reinstalled. The alleged CIA documents that contain this information were leaked today, shortly after a press announcement WikiLeaks made through its Twitter.
The Mac platform hasn’t been left out, either. In today’s leak, WikiLeaks also detailed several tools that could be used to infect Apple’s flagship computers. One of the, dubbed “Sonic Screwdriver,” can compromise a Mac via a Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter. Another, called “DarkSeaSkies,” implants itself in a Mac’s firmware, making it invisible to typical digital forensic scans. Most of the documents released today are rather old — some dating as far back as seven years ago. But that doesn’t mean that the CIA isn’t relying on these tools or similar methods — some Vault 7 documents show that, as of 2016, the CIA is still using and updating some of these hacking systems, according to Heavy.
Dark Matter is just the latest release in a larger WikiLeaks series called Vault 7 — which aims to expose the various methods and tools that the CIA uses to hack into popular consumer devices. The first series, dubbed “Year Zero,” was leaked on March 7, and apparently contained over 8,700 documents and files that described methods of hacking everything from smartphones to Smart TVs.
Apple contends that many of these vulnerabilities have already been patched, and the company announced earlier this month that it has and will continue to block any organization’s ability to spy on its customers. “Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ privacy and security. The technology built into today’s iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers, and we’re constantly working to keep it that way,” Apple said in a statement toBuzzFeed. “While our initial analysis indicates many of the issues leaked (March 7) were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue to work rapidly to address any identified vulnerabilities.”
If you’re particularly worried about government intrusion into your data, Apple recommends that you make a habit of downloading your device’s latest software update.