WikiLeaks has released the CIA's "Year Zero", a trove of 8761 documents and files allegedly from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Centre for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.
The files allegedly show the breadth of hacking tools at the CIA's disposal, including malware, viruses, Trojans, weaponised "zero day" exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.
Wikileaks says the collection amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, and “gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA”.
Wikileaks says it got handed the archive while being circulated among former US government hackers and contractors in an “unauthorised manner”.
"Year Zero" allegedly shows the scope and direction of the CIA's global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of "zero day" weaponised exploits against a wide range of US and European company products, including Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.
Wikileaks says it has carefully reviewed the "Year Zero" disclosure and avoided the distribution of one of the alleged exploits until a “consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA's program and how such 'weapons' should be analysed, disarmed and published”.
Wikileaks also said it has redacted and anonymised some identifying information in "Year Zero" for in depth analysis. These redactions include tens of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States.
The website said: “While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in "Vault 7" part one (“Year Zero”) already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.”
The leak follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election.
In a statement to WikiLeaks, the source of the files details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA's hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency.
Wikileak's source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyber-weapons.
The source claims that once a single cyber-weapon is loose it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber-mafia and teenage hackers alike.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that: "There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber 'weapons'. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such 'weapons', which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of ‘Year Zero' goes well beyond the choice between cyber-war and cyber-peace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective."