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Friday, 25 August 2017 08:07

Vault 7: CIA tool can steal biometric data from NSA, FBI Featured

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WikiLeaks has released details of a CIA project known as ExpressLane which enabled the agency to steal biometric data from its liaison services such as the NSA, Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI.

The release was part of its ongoing Vault 7 document dump which was kicked off on 7 March. The tool only works on computers running Windows.

The whistleblower website said the CIA's Office of Technical Services had a biometric collection system with liaison services "with the expectation for sharing of the biometric takes collected on the systems". 

But this was used to instead exfiltrate data from the systems that were provided to liaison services.

ExpressLane was installed under the guise of being an update for the biometric software.

It was initially developed in 2009 and expected to remain secret until 2034.

The user guide for ExpressLane says: "ExpressLane 3.0 will overtly appear to be just another part of this system. It’s called: MOBSLangSvc.exe and is stored in \Windows\System32. 

"Covertly it will collect the data files of interest from the liaison system and store them compressed and encrypted in the covert partition on a specially watermarked thumb drive when it is inserted into the system."

WikiLeaks said the main parts of the system were based on software from Cross Match, an American company that makes biometric software for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

In 2011, the company's software was reported to have been used by the US military to identify the late Osama bin Laden during the successful bid to assassinate the Al-Qaeda leader in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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