CIA Athena
May 24, 2017 by

WikiLeaks Reveals CIA Windows Spyware ‘Athena’

WikiLeaks has published documents from the CIA’s “Athena” project, a spyware malware that targets all versions of Windows from Windows XP to Windows 10.

Codenamed “Athena”, the malware was developed by the CIA alongside New Hampshire-based ‘cybersecurity’ company Siege Technologies. The malware provides “remote beacon and loader capabilities” on victims’ Windows machines.

An excerpt from WikiLeaks’ reveal reads:

Once installed, the malware provides a beaconing capability (including configuration and task handling), the memory loading/unloading of malicious payloads for specific tasks and the delivery and retrieval of files to/from a specified directory on the target system.

The malware even enables the operator behind it to tweak and configure settings during runtime, effectively customizing the malware.

“I feel more comfortable working on electronic warfare,” Jason Syversen, Siege Technologies founder reportedly said in an email published by WikiLeaks. “It’s a little different than bombs and nuclear weapons – that’s a morally complex field to be in.”

Athena joins WannaCry as two variants of government-sponsored malware wherein the CIA has effectively discovered vulnerabilities in the world’s most popular operating system and made malware to exploit it. As opposed to notifying or reporting the vulnerabilities to Microsoft.

For its part, Microsoft has laid the blame on the US government for creating the hacking tools that were used in the sweeping global cyberattack instigated by the WannaCry ransomware.

Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith wrote the following in a blog post during the WannaCry attack:

[T]his attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem. This is an emerging pattern in 2017. We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world. Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage. 

He further stated that the governments of the world ought to treat this attack as a ‘wake-up call’ and urged them to take a different approach in tact in dealing with weapons in cyberspace, akin to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world.

Image credit: Wikimedia.

About the author

Image of Author

LIFARS is a digital forensics and cybersecurity intelligence firm based in New York City. LIFARS is ranked as one of the top Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigations companies in 2016 and as one of the top cybersecurity companies in the New York metropolitan area for 2015 on the Cybersecurity 500 – a directory of the hottest and most innovative companies to watch in the cybersecurity industry.

Related articles

‘EternalRocks’ Exploit uses Seven NSA Cyberweapons

A security researcher has discovered a repackaged exploit of a total of 7 NSA cyberweapons in a...

Read more arrow_forward

CIA Blasts WikiLeaks for Publishing Breached Secret Documents

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has lambasted WikiLeaks, accusing the whistleblower...

Read more arrow_forward

WikiLeaks: CIA Malware Turned iPhones, smart TVs into Hacking Devices

WikiLeaks has leaked a large trove of CIA documents and hacking tools that were supposedly used by...

Read more arrow_forward