CIA’s Secret Spy Tool Steals Biometric Data From Other Intelligence Agencies

By Aaron Kesel

WikiLeaks has published a document of a CIA project called ‘ExpressLane’ that allows the agency to secretly extract biometric data from the NSA, the DHS, and the FBI as well as non-U.S. agencies.

The documents from ExpressLane were released by the international whistleblowing organization as part of its ongoing ‘Vault 7’ series on the CIA’s hacking capabilities.

The program is operated by a branch within the CIA called the Office of Technical Services (OTS) and provides a biometric collection system to partner intelligence services around the world “with the expectation for sharing of the biometric takes collected on the systems,” according to a file released by WikiLeaks.

The user guide for the tool states that the program was developed to support OTS in its efforts to verify that biometric data was being given to the CIA.

“ExpressLane v3.1.1 provides an ability to disable the biometric software if liaison doesn’t provide the Agency with continued access.”

ExpressLane is installed and run under the guise of upgrading the biometric software by OTS agents who physically visit the target site.

“OTS/i2c plans to revisit these sites with the cover of upgrading the biometric software to perform a collection against the biometric takes,” a CIA document outlining the program read.

The data exfiltration is then disguised behind a Windows installation splash screen so anyone overseeing the OTS officer installing the “update” doesn’t become suspicious. Meanwhile, the program is siphoning out the agency’s database of biometric data.

The files originate from 2009 and were intended to remain secret until 2034, according to the files.

The exploit by the OTS uses the Cross Match biometric system –  a U.S. company that specializes in biometric software for law enforcement and the intelligence offices according to WikiLeaks.

This all comes as the U.S. Senate wants to label Wikileaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” which WikiLeaks’ editor and founder Julian Assange has rebuffed as “absurd.” Maybe the CIA needs to be labeled a hostile intelligence service?

This will only foment distrust within the Intelligence Community, causing paranoia that the CIA is using some sort of software to spy on its “rivals.”

In a way, this mirrors the PROMIS Inslaw case where the U.S. government was accused of backdooring the PROMIS (Prosecutors Management Information Systems) software that was used for intelligence gathering, according to electronics and computer expert Michael Riconosciuto who worked for the CIA at the time.

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post and is Director of Content for Coinivore. Follow Aaron at Twitter and Steemit.

This article is Creative Commons and can be republished in full with attribution. Like Activist Post on Facebook, subscribe on YouTube, follow on Twitter and at Steemit.

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