WikiLeaks new dump Protego unleashes CIA's secret missile control system for fighter jets

WikiLeaks says that unlike previous CIA malware frameworks exposed by the whistleblowing platform, Protego is not a 'usual' malware development projectSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

WikiLeaks has just dropped its latest dump in the Vault 7 series, detailing the CIA's secret missile control system called project Protego. The project was allegedly maintained by the spy agency between 2014 and 2015.

WikiLeaks says that unlike previous CIA malware frameworks exposed by the whistleblowing platform, Protego is not a "usual" malware development project. Instead, Protego is a PIC-based missile control system developed by Raytheon.

According to the documents leaked by WikiLeaks, Protego has been installed on-board a Pratt and Whitney aircraft, which allegedly comes equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground missile launch systems.

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Pratt Whitney builds military aircraft engines, which are used in F-15 Eagles, F-16 Falcons, B-52 strategic bombers and more.

Housed within Protego are micro-controller units – the "Master Processor" (MP) and "Deployment Box." All data and signal processes happen over encrypted and verified channels, supported by the MP. Separate micro-controllers also exist for the missile itself, which include the Missle Smart Switch (MSS), the Tube Smart Switch (TSS) and the collar, which "holds the missile" prior to and during launch. "Missiles can only be launched if all signals received by MP are set to 'true'," WikiLeaks said.

According to WikiLeaks, Protego also allegedly has measures in place to "auto-destruct" missiles' authentication and encryption keys in the event scenarios such as "missile missing or "leaving a target area of operation".

WikiLeaks also released 37 related documents detailing proprietary hardware and software manuals from Microchip Technology Inc.

Protego is as of now, the only Vault 7 document that veers off from detailing CIA-developed malware. Previous leaks have exposed various customized malware frameworks allegedly used by the spy agency to conduct surveillance on targets using a variety of devices, including those running iOS, Android and Windows operating systems.

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