The Central Intelligence Agency’s hackers have developed tools allowing them to bypass encryption in popular mobile messaging apps, including WhatsApp and Signal, according to WikiLeaks.
The website posted 8,761 documents and files online Tuesday from what it claims is the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, detailing the spy agency’s hacking techniques. The material covers the period from 2013 to 2016, with documents concerning malware, viruses, security vulnerabilities known as “zero days” and several hundred million lines of code, WikiLeaks said in a statement.
“The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive,” the organization, which specializes in disclosing sensitive government documents, said.
CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu said in an email: “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”
The trove shows CIA hackers are able to bypass encryption of applications including WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Confide by breaking into smartphones “that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied,” WikiLeaks said in its analysis of the material.
Activists, journalists and others often turn to such outlets for secure communications, while terrorist groups such as Islamic State have used Telegram to go undetected. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have said that they need new powers to break into encrypted applications and devices.
The CIA also “runs a very substantial effort to infect and control” Microsoft Windows users with its malware, WikiLeaks said. It said the agency uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, as a “covert base for its hackers” covering Europe, Middle East and Africa.
WikiLeaks said it redacted and removed some identifying information in the content, including tens of thousands of “CIA targets and attack machines’’ in Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. Last year, WikiLeaks disclosed documents from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.