Malware expert says ‘fingerprint’ switch shows past attacks blamed on Russia, China are work of CIA
Following revelations that the CIA can reportedly attribute its hacking activity to others, an anti-virus expert has said that attacks previously blamed on others are now attributable to the CIA, according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
News that the CIA could make its malware look as if it derived from Russia, China or other actors emerged as part of WikiLeaks’ ‘Year Zero’ data release on Tuesday.
According to the leaked information, the CIA’s malware allows the intelligence agency to not only steal hacking techniques, but also to leave false “fingerprints” to make it appear as if others were responsible for the attack.
Speaking in a livestream on Thursday, Assange announced that WikiLeaks will give tech companies access to the methods used by the CIA in its hacking operations. Assange then said that after the revelation, an anti-virus expert approached WikiLeaks to say that attacks previously blamed on Russia, China and Iran have now been pinned on the CIA.
“The technology is designed to be unaccountable, it’s designed to be untraceable, it’s designed to hide itself. It’s designed to throw off people looking to see where there are fingerprints that might demonstrate who authored that technology," Assange explained.
“We have quite a lot more material that talks about these attempts to throw off attribution to discover who is actually behind a particular cyberattack,” the Australian said, hinting at further revelations to come in future ‘Vault 7’ WikiLeaks releases.
“Already an anti-virus expert has come forward to say that sophisticated malware that he had attributed to a state, either Iran, China or Russia, now he believes is from the CIA because the type of attack system it uses corresponds directly to a description we published of that attack system.”
“And it’s rare enough that it seems unlikely that it would be independently discovered, unless of course China has already gotten hold of these parts of the CIA arsenal and that China is using them to pretend to be the CIA.”
The WikiLeaks founder also warned that because the technology hides its origin its completely open to being abused without consequences.
“There’s absolutely nothing to stop a random CIA officer, or contractor, or liaison agent working for the British, using that technology against whoever they like for whatever reasons they like,” he warned.