3 New CIA-developed Hacking Tools For MacOS & Linux Exposed

WikiLeaks has just published a new set of classified documents linked to another CIA project, dubbed 'Imperial' which reveals details of at least three CIA-developed hacking tools and implants designed to target computers running Apple Mac OS X and different flavours of Linux operating systems.

If you are a regular reader of THN, you must be aware that this latest revelation by the whistleblower organisation is the part of an ongoing CIA-Vault 7 leaks, marking it as the 18th batch in the series.

If you are unaware of the Vault 7 leaks, you can head on to the second of this article for having a brief look on all the leaks at once.

Achilles — Tool to Backdoor Mac OS X Disk Images

Dubbed Achilles, the hacking tool allows CIA operators to combine malicious Trojan applications with a legitimate Mac OS app into a disk image installer (.DMG) file.

The binding tool, the shell script is written in Bash, gives the CIA operators "one or more desired operator specified executables" for a one-time execution.

As soon as an unsuspecting user downloads an infected disk image on his/her Apple computer, opens and installs the software, the malicious executables would also run in the background.

Afterwards, all the traces of the Achilles tool would be "removed securely" from the downloaded application so that the file would "exactly resemble" the original legitimate app, un-trojaned application, making it hard for the investigators and antivirus software to detect the initial infection vector.

Achilles v1.0, developed in 2011, was only tested on Mac OS X 10.6, which is Apple's Snow Leopard operating system that the company launched in 2009.

SeaPea — Stealthy Rootkit For Mac OS X Systems

The second hacking tool, called SeaPea, is a Mac OS X Rootkit that gives CIA operators stealth and tool launching capabilities by hiding important files, processes and socket connections from the users, allowing them to access Macs without victims knowledge.

Developed in 2011, the Mac OS X Rootkit works on computers running then-latest Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) Operating System (32- or 64-bit Kernel Compatible) and Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) Operating System.

The rootkit requires root access to be installed on a target Mac computer and cannot be removed unless the startup disk is reformatted or the infected Mac is upgraded to the next version of the operating system.

Aeris — An Automated Implant For Linux Systems

The third CIA hacking tool, dubbed Aeris, is an automated implant written in C programming language that is specifically designed to backdoor portable Linux-based Operating Systems, including Debian, CentOS, Red Hat — along with FreeBSD and Solaris.

Aeris is a builder that CIA operators can use to generate customised impacts, depending upon their covert operation.

"It supports automated file exfiltration, configurable beacon interval and jitter, stand-alone and Collide-based HTTPS LP support and SMTP protocol support — all with TLS encrypted communications with mutual authentication," 
"It's compatible with the NOD Cryptographic Specification and provides structured command and control that's similar to that used by several Windows implants."

Previous Vault 7 CIA Leaks

Last week, WikiLeaks revealed about CIA contractor Raytheon Blackbird Technologies, which analysed in-the-wild advanced malware and hacking techniques and submitted at least five reports to the agency for help develop their own malware.

Since March, the whistle-blowing group has published 18 batches of "Vault 7" series, which includes the latest and last week leaks, along with the following batches:

  • Highrise Project — the alleged CIA project that allowed the spying agency to stealthy collect and forwarded stolen data from compromised smartphones to its server through SMS messages.
  • BothanSpy and Gyrfalcon — two alleged CIA implants that allowed the spying agency to intercept and exfiltrate SSH credentials from targeted Windows and Linux operating systems using different attack vectors.
  • OutlawCountry – An alleged CIA project that allowed it to hack and remotely spy on computers running the Linux operating systems.
  • ELSA – the alleged CIA malware that tracks geo-location of targeted PCs and laptops running the Microsoft Windows operating system.
  • Brutal Kangaroo – A tool suite for Microsoft Windows used by the agency to targets closed networks or air-gapped computers within an organization or enterprise without requiring any direct access.
  • Cherry Blossom – An agency's framework, basically a remotely controllable firmware-based implant, used for monitoring the Internet activity of the targeted systems by exploiting vulnerabilities in Wi-Fi devices.
  • Pandemic – A CIA's project that allowed the agency to turn Windows file servers into covert attack machines that can silently infect other computers of interest inside a targeted network.
  • Athena – A CIA's spyware framework that has been designed to take full control over the infected Windows PCs remotely, and works against every version of Microsoft's Windows operating systems, from Windows XP to Windows 10.
  • AfterMidnight and Assassin – Two alleged CIA malware frameworks for the Microsoft Windows platform that has been designed to monitor and report back actions on the infected remote host computer and execute malicious actions.
  • Archimedes – Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack tool allegedly created by the CIA to target computers inside a Local Area Network (LAN).
  • Scribbles – A piece of software reportedly designed to embed 'web beacons' into confidential documents, allowing the agency to track insiders and whistleblowers.
  • Grasshopper – Framework which allowed the spying agency to easily create custom malware for breaking into Microsoft's Windows and bypassing antivirus protection.
  • Marble – Source code of a secret anti-forensic framework, basically an obfuscator or a packer used by the CIA to hide the actual source of its malware.
  • Dark Matter – Hacking exploits the agency designed to target iPhones and Macs.
  • Weeping Angel – Spying tool used by the agency to infiltrate smart TV's, transforming them into covert microphones.
  • Year Zero – Alleged CIA hacking exploits for popular hardware and software.
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