WikiLeaks’ sudden dump of secret CIA documents includes a lot of detail on the exact methods the agency has been allegedly using to hack various devices. One of the more colorful descriptions is the tool created to hack Samsung smart TVs, which turned them into covert microphones.
The CIA called the hack “Weeping Angel.”
For any fan of the Doctor Who, the reference was clear. The Weeping Angels are a monster on the show, known for their peculiar ability: The Angels (which are evil, of course) can move lightning-fast, but only when no one is looking at them. As soon as you lock your gaze in their direction, they freeze, unable to move, resembling statues.
The TV is most dangerous when no one is actually watching it — just like the Weeping Angels.
It’s a fairly clever reference: According to WikiLeaks, the specific hack involves putting the Samsung TV in “Fake-Off” mode, meaning the TV looks off, but is really on, leaving the microphone engaged so the hacker can listen to anyone within earshot of the TV. That makes the TV most dangerous when no one is actually watching it — just like the Weeping Angels.
WikiLeaks alleges the CIA developed the tool with MI5, Britain’s equivalent of the FBI, which probably explains where the name came from. Doctor Who, while popular in the U.S., has been an institution in the UK since it first debuted in 1963, and references to the show are ingrained in the culture.
Exploits and vulnerabilities often have colorful names, but Weeping Angel will definitely go down in history as one of the geekiest.