Skip to Content

Wikileaks: ‘Marble’ is proof that CIA disguises hacks as Russian

The Vault 7 release by WikiLeaks contains a series of documents, named "Marble", detailing how CIA hacking tactics misdirect forensic investigators from attributing viruses, trojans and attacks.

Published: April 1, 2017, 9:36 am

    Read more

    After the release of “Year Zero” and “Dark Matter”, WikiLeaks has now released the third batch of stolen CIA documents. It doesn’t focus on tech companies, but on the American spy agency itself.

    Previous Vault7 releases have revealed the CIA’s ability to mask its hacking fingerprints. It has now been revealed how the CIA inserts code fragments in foreign languages, and the tactic has been in use as recently as 2016.

    According to the WikiLeaks release: “The source code shows that Marble has test examples not just in English but also in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic and Farsi. This would permit a forensic attribution double game, for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion, — but there are other possibilities, such as hiding fake error messages.”

    By doing so, it creates a means for virus writers to pretend that the malware was created by a speaker of a range of foreign languages. But not any foreign languages of course, because the languages are those of the US’s main cyber-adversaries – Russia, North Korea, China and Iran.

    WikiLeaks suggests that this tech would trick security analysts to into thinking they were, for example, dealing with the Russians or the Chinese PLA.

    The whistleblower believes that potentially “thousands” of cyber attacks could thus be attributed to the CIA, while the blamed is wrongly placed on foreign governments, noting that the CIA technique is the digital equivalent of a tool which disguises the English text on US produced weapons systems before they are provided to insurgents.

    WikiLeaks said Marble is able to hide fragments of texts that would allow for the author of the malware to be identified, “designed to allow for flexible and easy-to-use obfuscation” as “string obfuscation algorithms” often link malware to a specific developer.

    The source code released reveals Marble contains test examples in Russian, Korean, Arabic, Chinese and Farsi.

    “This would permit a forensic attribution double game, for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion,” according to WikiLeaks, “But there are other possibilities, such as hiding fake error messages.”

    The code also contains a “deobfuscator” which allows the CIA text obfuscation to be reversed. “Combined with the revealed obfuscation techniques, a pattern or signature emerges which can assist forensic investigators attribute previous hacking attacks and viruses to the CIA.”

    “Marble forms part of the CIA’s anti-forensics approach. […] This would permit a forensic attribution double game, for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion, — but there are other possibilities, such as hiding fake error messages.

    “The Marble Framework is used for obfuscation only and does not contain any vulnerabilties or exploits by itself.”

    The Marble release appears authentic because WikiLeaks used “primary source documents,” John Kiriakou, former CIA analyst and whistleblower, told RT.

    The first set of leaks, released on 7 March, described exploits used to compromise vulnerable Android devices, Apple iPhones, Samsung TVs, Windows PCs, and Macs.

    Two weeks later, it leaked how the CIA was able to buy Apple Macs and iPhones, install spyware on them, and give them to targets. WikiLeaks spun this to suggest this might be happening in the factory, but the suggestion was unsupported by the leaked documents.

    El Reg has independently confirmed that Assange and his co-workers have entered into talks with Microsoft, unlike whistleblower Edward Snowden, who unequivocally shared all the documents with the public without making any demands to the publications or companies.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Americas

    Only 31 percent of Americans back Jerusalem as Israeli capital

    US President Donald Trump signed a declaration earlier this week officially announcing his intention to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. But his choice is not popular with Americans.

    US refugee admission signals drop as Trump pulls out of UN migration initiative

    Refugee admissions to the United States were down 83 percent in the first two months of the fiscal year for 2018 - October and November - compared to the first two months of of the previous fiscal year 2017.

    Democratic Party in the US disintegrating

    Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Donna Brazile has charged the Clinton campaign of essentially rigging the 2016 primaries as well as being responsible for a staffer's murder before the election.

    Twitter’s suspension of Trump account raises serious questions

    President Donald Trump's personal Twitter account was shut down on Thursday after a disgruntled Twitter employee had deactivated the account the company said. But does Twitter's explanation make sense?

    US Air Force preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers on alert

    The US Air Force at Barksdale Air Fore Base, near Bossier City, Louisiana — is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991.

    Fake news beyond the headlines

    Mainstream media news content does no longer contain anything relevant beyond the screaming headlines designed to generate clicks.

    Culture wars: Hollywood mogul outed as serial sexual predator

    Hollywood's top globalist propagandist Harvey Weinstein, has been exposed not only as a serial sexual predator, but also as someone with a deceitful and duplicitous media in tow.

    Dawkins, other prominent leftists express contempt for Vegas victims

    The evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins tweeted his contempt for white Americans and the Second Amendment of the US Constitution after learning about the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

    How stupid are American Democratic lawmakers?

    WashingtonThree Democrats from the House of Representatives have sent a letter to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) demanding an investigation into Sputnik Radio, "used as part of the Kremlin’s effort to influence the 2016 presidential election".

    Trump-DACA deal ‘biggest amnesty in American history’

    WashingtonFox News host Tucker Carlson warned on Thursday night that the Trump-DACA deal with Democrats will be the "biggest amnesty in American history". Worse still, president Trump will get nothing in return, Carlson said.

    Go to archive