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WikiLeaks releases Vault 7 'Dark Matter' revealing CIA projects that infect Apple Mac Computer firmware

WikiLeaks On Thursday Released The Latest Batch Of Documents In Its Vault 7 Series Dubbed 'Dark Matter,' Which Reveals The Specific Techniques Used To Target Apple Products.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Bindiya Bhatt | Updated on: 23 Mar 2017, 07:44:51 PM
WikiLeaks releases Vault 7 'Dark Matter'

New Delhi:

WikiLeaks on Thursday released the latest batch of documents in its Vault 7 series dubbed 'Dark Matter,' which reveals the specific techniques used to target Apple products.

The Vault 7 series leak of documents is related to the CIA’s espionage programs. According to a report in RT.com, the leak came just prior to WikiLeaks latest press conference on Thursday. 

Earlier on March 7, WikiLeaks began its new series of leaks on the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and released more than 8,000 documents, as part of ‘Year Zero’, the first in a series of leaks the whistleblower organisation has dubbed ‘Vault 7.’

Code-named “Vault 7” by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency. According to reports, a total of 8,761 documents has been published as part of ‘Year Zero’.

The 'Dark Matter' projects, allegedly developed by the CIA's Embedded Development Branch (EDB), attack Apple’s firmware. Attacking on Apple's firmware means any infections are persistent regardless of efforts to remove them.

ALSO READ | WikiLeaks releases 8,000 documents as part of 'Vault 7', largest ever leaks of confidential docs on America's CIA

Below is the press release issued by WikiLeaks on its verified twitter handle:

Today, March 23rd 2017, WikiLeaks releases Vault 7 "Dark Matter", which contains documentation for several CIA projects that infect Apple Mac Computer firmware (meaning the infection persists even if the operating system is re-installed) developed by the CIA's Embedded Development Branch (EDB).

These documents explain the techniques used by CIA to gain 'persistence' on Apple Mac devices, including Macs and iPhones and demonstrate their use of EFI/UEFI and firmware malware.

Among others, these documents reveal the "Sonic Screwdriver" project which, as explained by the CIA, is a "mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a Mac laptop or desktop is booting" allowing an attacker to boot its attack software for example from a USB stick "even when a firmware password is enabled".

The CIA's "Sonic Screwdriver" infector is stored on the modified firmware of an Apple Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter.

"DarkSeaSkies" is "an implant that persists in the EFI firmware of an Apple MacBook Air computer" and consists of "DarkMatter", "SeaPea" and "NightSkies", respectively EFI, kernel-space and user-space implants.

Documents on the "Triton" MacOSX malware, its infector "Dark Mallet" and its EFI-persistent version "DerStake" are also included in this release. While the DerStake1.4 manual released today dates to 2013, other Vault 7 documents show that as of 2016 the CIA continues to rely on and update these systems and is working on the production of DerStarke2.0.

Also included in this release is the manual for the CIA's "NightSkies 1.2" a "beacon/loader/implant tool" for the Apple iPhone. Noteworthy is that NightSkies had reached 1.2 by 2008, and is expressly designed to be physically installed onto factory fresh iPhones. i.e the CIA has been infecting the iPhone supply chain of its targets since at least 2008.

While CIA assets are sometimes used to physically infect systems in the custody of a target it is likely that many CIA physical access attacks have infected the targeted organization's supply chain including by interdicting mail orders and other shipments (opening, infecting, and resending) leaving the United States or otherwise.

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First Published : 23 Mar 2017, 07:33:00 PM

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