WikiLeaks reveals how CIA hacks iPhones, MacBooks
WASHINGTON: The Central Intelligence Agency is able to permanently infect an Apple Mac computer so that even reinstalling the operating system will not erase the bug, according to documents published on Thursday by WikiLeaks.
In its second release allegedly from CIA’s arsenal of hacking tools, WikiLeaks said that it appeared that the United States spy agency had been able, since 2008, to insert bugs onto new and unused iPhones by intervening in Apple’s supply and distribution network.
The release follows the initial publication on March 9 by the anti-secrecy group of thousands of pages of instructions and code from what it called the entire CIA arsenal of hacking tools.
The documents are believed to be genuine although CIA has not acknowledged this.
The publication of the documents sparked a US counterintelligence investigation into how the documents leaked out from CIA and made their way to WikiLeaks, with some people blaming the agency’s use of private subcontractors as a likely source.
The newest documents focus on how CIA targets Apple’s popular personal electronics to spy on users.
They show the CIA developed a tool in 2012 called “Sonic Screwdriver” that could hijack an Apple computer’s password-protected boot process from peripheral devices like adapters and USB drives.
By doing so, they can inject a undetectable bug deep into the computer ’s essential firmware that will not be erased even when the computer is reformatted.
The manual for the “NightSkies” bug shows that CIA developed it in 2008 to be implanted physically in new iPhones.
“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 organisation’s supply chain, including by interdicting mail orders and other shipments,” WikiLeaks said.