WikiLeaks released details on what it said is a Central Intelligence Agency document tracking program called Scribbles, part of the agency’s effort to keep tabs on documents leaked to whistleblowers and journalists. Scribbles allegedly embeds a web beacon-style tag into watermarks located on Microsoft Word documents that can report document analytics back to the CIA.
A user manual describing Scribbles said the tool can be used to generate batch copies of identical or unique files, each with distinctive watermarks that includes a web beacon-like tag. A web beacon (or web bug) is a transparent graphic image that can be used to report back if a document has been opened and the IP address of the computer that requested the image file.
According to WikiLeaks, Scribble works exclusively with Microsoft Office documents. The tool, according to the user guide has been “successfully tested” to work with Microsoft Office 2013 (on Windows 8.1 x64) and Office 97-2016 running on Windows 98 and above.
WikiLeaks’ copy of the CIA’s Scribbles user manual says the tool will not work on encrypted or password-protected documents. The CIA also warns that if a document with a Scribbles’ watermark is opened in an alternative document viewing program, such as OpenOffice or LibreOffice, it may result in revealing watermarks and URLs for the user…