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The CIA Has Looked Into Hacking Connected Vehicles Since 2014: WikiLeaks

Illustration for article titled The CIA Has Looked Into Hacking Connected Vehicles Since 2014: WikiLeaks

The trove of documents released by WikiLeaks of alleged tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency to break into electronic items has made the rounds all day today, but one item stuck out for us: the agency apparently has been looking into hacking cars since 2014, to the surprise of (likely) no hacker.


If what’s contained within the files checks out, it’s legit pretty wild, though: The release is codenamed Vault 7, and it stems from inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence facility in Virginia. The New York Time reported that some of the documents “appeared to be genuine,” according to one former intelligence officer.


The car-related stuff stems from what appears to be October 2014 meeting notes of the CIA’s “Embedded Development Branch,” which WikiLeaks claims is a sect of the agency that “infests” electronic devices and transforms “them into cover microphones.”

Under a section labeled “Potential Mission Areas for EDB,” the document mentions “vehicle systems” as a possible target. WikiLeaks goes on to claim that this would “permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” though it wasn’t immediately clear as to what its conclusion is based on.

And take that with a grain of salt. As our sister site Gizmodo noted, WikiLeaks’ description of some of the documents is misleading—for instance, that the trove illustrates the CIA’s capability to bypass encrypted messaging apps like Signal or WhatsApp, however—as many journalists and researchers noted—what’s described is a hack of your entire phone. If that happens, you’re screwed; those apps are still technically secure.

But consider this one of the least surprising revelations. Car Hacked just isn’t earth-shattering news at this point.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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It took a team of security researchers a year to get into the Jeep that was shown at Black Hat. The amount of resources it would take to have even a remotely comprehensive list of car hacking tools would be insane - beyond even the budget and available resources of the CIA. I’m not sure there’s that much high level hacking talent available in the market to keep up with updates and constantly changing car systems.

I doubt they got really far with this. However, it’s a big concern once self-driving cars become a thing.

Security is a big concern, but it takes a lot of work to hack new things. If you look through their leaks a ton of their tools are for old (even at the time) versions of stuff like Android like 4.0.

Still, good idea to turn off UPnP and manage your devices carefully on your home network if you don’t want to be spied on.