New WikiLeaks Docs Show How the CIA Hacks iPhones and MacBooks
For years, the CIA has been developing tools for hacking into Apple products — and thanks to WikiLeaks, those tools are now public. Today, the group published a new set of documents dubbed “Dark Matter,” part of the ongoing Vault 7 publication on CIA hacking tools. Today’s documents focus specifically on Apple products, detailing the CIA’s methods for breaking into MacBooks and iPhones.
Most of the documents are more than seven years old, putting them significantly out of sync with the company’s current products, but they show a persistent effort to find and exploit weaknesses in Apple products. One tool, called “Sonic Screwdriver,” was used to infect MacBooks through a USB or Thunderbolt port, presumably deployed when the CIA has physical access to a device. Other implants install themselves in the computer’s firmware interface, making them undetectable through conventional forensic techniques.
The agency seems to have had a harder time with the early versions of the iPhone. Only one of the tools targets the phone, a so-called “beacon” tool designed to be installed on an intercepted phone before purchase.
Given how old the bugs are, it’s unlikely any of them would be effective against contemporary Apple products, although it’s likely the CIA has developed similar capabilities to target today’s MacBooks. WikiLeaks has pledged to disclose all the Vault 7 vulnerabilities to the relevant companies for patching, but the group has been slow to fulfill that promise, reportedly requiring a series of conditions before the bugs can be disclosed.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.