The American consulate in Frankfurt functions as a covert base for CIA hacking operations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks said, revealing the latest batch of their documents.
According to the leaked documents, the US consulate, located on Giessener Strasse opposite the Frankfurt cemetery, is the home of the Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe, or CCIE, which carries out hacking operations across the continent as well as the Middle East and Africa.
The documents reveal instructions for incoming hackers, containing not only mundane travel tips (“Flying Lufthansa: Booze is free so enjoy (within reason)!”) and details of local amenities (“Gas stations are not recommended for fine dining”) but also the official cover story should the agents be stopped by German customs, which is “supporting technical consultations at the Consulate.”
In addition to the cover story, the documents seem to show that CIA hackers work under the cover of the State Department and are issued with diplomatic “black” passports.
On top of this, the leaked documents reveal some of the CIA’s hacking techniques, which are able to penetrate such high-security systems as police databases that are not directly connected to the Internet.
This includes malware physically installed on computer systems by the agents using a USB.
The “Fine Dining” tool provides 24 decoy programs, make it look like agent is running virus scan, watching videos, playing games and so on.
These latest revelations stem from WikiLeaks’ largest-ever disclosure from the agency, a total of 8,761 documents released on Wednesday as part of “Year Zero,” the first part in a series of leaks on the agency that the whistleblower organization has dubbed “Vault 7.”
The documents are said to originate from the internal network at Cyber Intelligence Center, located in CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
This is not the first time that WikiLeaks has revealed the extent of American intelligence agencies’ activities in Germany.
In 2015, it published three intercepts of conversations held by German Chancellor Angela Merkel recorded by the NSA, which had been bugging her phones for years.
But by the end of 2016, WikiLeaks notes in its press release that the CIA’s hacking division had built up its capabilities to such an extent that it had “created, in effect, its ‘own NSA’ with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.”