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.