After experts had time to sift through the latest Wikileaks dump, the biggest revelation to come out of the leak is that British spies helped the CIA find a way to convert ‘smart’ TVs into secret microphones. The codename for the program was allegedly “Weeping Angels.”
British intelligence agency MI5 worked with the CIA to develop software that convinced people their sets were switched off when in fact they were on and recording every word they said. The agency’s “Weeping Angel” program allegedly can capture audio but not video.
According to WikiLeaks, even when the television is turned off, it can ‘operate as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the internet to a covert CIA server.’ Similarly, while the units are in what’s referred to as “fake-off mode,” the screen appears to be off and the LEDs on the front of the set dim as if you’d turned off your TV.
The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell’s 1984, but “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.
The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom’s MI5/BTSS. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.
WikiLeaks says the information dump, which they called ‘Vault 7, Year Zero,’ exposed the agency’s entire ‘hacking tool-kit.’ This leak is an even bigger and more substantial breach of U.S. intelligence than Edward Snowden’s.
Furthermore, the leaks reveal that the CIA has been looking into infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. While Wikileaks points out that the purpose of such control is not specified, it would permit the CIA to engage in virtually undetectable assassinations.
A CIA spokesperson said of the issue: “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”