Dubbed Athena/Hera, the spyware has been designed to take full control over the infected Windows PCs remotely, allowing the agency to perform all sorts of things on the target machine, including deleting data or uploading malicious software, and stealing data and send them to CIA server.
- Primary: Athena for XP to Windows 10
- Secondary: Hera for Windows 8 through Windows 10
According to the whistleblower organization, Athena has the ability to allow the CIA agents to modify its configuration in real time, while the implant is on target “to customize it to an operation.”
“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,” WikiLeaks claims.
The leaked documents suggest that Athena, written in Python programming language, was developed in August 2015, just a month after Microsoft released its Windows 10 operating system.
Interestingly, one document also suggests that the CIA agents have been advised to make sure that the spyware should not get caught by antivirus software programs, especially Kaspersky AV software.
Athena has been developed by the CIA in cooperation with Siege Technologies – an American cyber security firm that offers offensive cyber war technologies and works in close cooperation with the United States government.
However, WikiLeaks has not provided any detail about the operations being conducted by the agency using Athena, but it is not hard to imagine how the intelligence agency would be using this program to spy on their targets.
Since March, the whistleblowing group has published nine batches of “Vault 7” series, which includes the latest and last week leaks, along with the following batches:
- Archimedes – a tool used by the CIA to attack a computer inside a Local Area Network
- Weeping Angel – spying tool used by the agency to infiltrate smart TV’s, transforming them into covert microphones.
- Dark Matter – focused on hacking exploits the agency designed to target iPhones and Macs.
- Marble – revealed the 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.
- Grasshopper – reveal a framework which allowed the agency to easily create custom malware for breaking into Microsoft’s Windows and bypassing antivirus protection.
- Scribbles – a piece of software allegedly designed to embed ‘web beacons’ into confidential documents, allowing the spying agency to track insiders and whistleblowers.