WikiLeaks has released the second volume of their CIA Vault 7 leaks today, publishing information on a hacking project focusing on Apple devices referred to as “Project Dark Matter.”
Project Dark Matter contains documentation relating to multiple CIA projects developed by the CIA’s Embedded Development Branch which focus on the infection of Apple Mac computer firmware. Due to the software being installed on a firmware level, the CIA’s infection is unaffected by operating system wiping, unlike many other malware infections. The documents within WikiLeaks data dump explain the methods used by the CIA to hijack Apple devices such as Mac computers, iPhones, and iPads.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 23, 2017
The documents also feature information on another project referred to as the “Sonic Screwdriver,” which is explained by the CIA as being a “mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a Mac laptop or desktop is booting” allowing an attacker to boot attack software for example from a USB stick “even when a firmware password is enabled.” The “Sonic Screwdriver” is inconspicuously installed on the modified firmware of Apple Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapters.
The WikiLeaks release page includes details on three more hacks which reads:
“DarkSeaSkies” is “an implant that persists in the EFI firmware of an Apple MacBook Air computer” and consists of “DarkMatter”, “SeaPea”, and “NightSkies”, respectively EFI, kernel-space and user-space implants.
Documents on the “Triton” MacOSX malware, its infector “Dark Mallet” and its EFI-persistent version “DerStake” are also included in this release. While the DerStake1.4 manual released today dates to 2013, other Vault 7 documents show that as of 2016 the CIA continues to rely on and update these systems and is working on the production of DerStarke2.0.
Also included in this release is the manual for the CIA’s “NightSkies 1.2” a “beacon/loader/implant tool” for the Apple iPhone. Noteworthy is that NightSkies had reached 1.2 by 2008, and is expressly designed to be physically installed onto factory fresh iPhones. i.e the CIA has been infecting the iPhone supply chain of its targets since at least 2008.
WikiLeaks further hypothesizes that Apple devices may have been infected at a factory level, “While CIA assets are sometimes used to physically infect systems in the custody of a target,” states WikiLeaks, “it is likely that many CIA physical access attacks have infected the targeted organization’s supply chain including by interdicting mail orders and other shipments (opening, infecting, and resending) leaving the United States or otherwise.”
Read the full Wikileaks data dump here.