The CIA’s Target: Macs
We have seen many examples of how the CIA, among other organizations, have used exploits to get backdoor access into people’s phones, computers, and other devices. But this is a new set of revelations, specifically targeting Mac computers using directly targeted malware installed by CIA operatives.
There are five vulnerabilities spoken about in the leaked documents. They are:
- Sonic Screwdriver 1.0 – An access vulnerability that uses a Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adaptor to infect firmware and allow the use of one of the below bits of malware to be executed to the computer.
- DarkSeaSkies 1.0 -A malware that infects older computers, like the Macbook Air, using a combination of DarkMatter, SeaPea, and NightSkies. One installs the malware, while the other two allow commands from the CIA to upload files from your computer, and hides the process.
- NightSkies 1.2 – A bit of maleware that ran on old iPhones up to the 3G, transmitting data from your phone to the CIA servers.
- Triton 1.3 – Uses hard drive mounting to see what you have on your computer, then transmit chosen folders to the CIA servers.
- Der Starke 1.4 – A hard to detect firmware exploit that nestles in your browser processes to transmit info and folders, while mimicking small tasks that you wouldn’t notice in the background. Can be uploaded via a flashdrive or other USB, but requires a third party exploit to latch onto.
Apple has come out officially stating that these vulnerabilities are out of date and have been fixed, most of them years ago. But that doesn’t offer quite as much reassurance as one might hope.
In light of the Snowden releases, we know for a fact that the US government, alongside many other world governments, has been monitoring citizens. We know that they have been collecting that data in such massive amounts that it would be impossible to even sift through it.
So any claims that the CIA was probably using these only to look at potential spies, terrorists, or other governments is pretty much bunk. The truth is they could have been doing this to anyone.
Moral of the story? Short of denying all technology and becoming a mountain hermit who lives off the land, all you can really do is make sure to update all of your software regularly.