U.S. President Donald Trump reacts after delivering remarks during a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Virginia U.S., January 21, 2017 / REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The programme allows the US agency to leave the 'fingerprints' of other hackers or countries behind

The CIA had a special programme allowing it to trick people into thinking they had been hacked by other countries, according to WikiLeaks.

The agency was cataloguing the hacking methods of outside cyber attackers, including those from Russia, according to files published by the organisation. Once it had them catalogued, it could use them to break into other countries or people's computers or phones – making it look like a different country had done so.

WikiLeaks made specific reference to the Russian Federation. Tensions between the US and Russia have escalated in recent months, in particular since American intelligence agencies blamed the hack of Democratic emails – credited with swaying the election of Donald Trump – on the country.

The project, called UMBRAGE, is just one of a range of different hacking tools that appear to be have been revealed by the leak. The files also include details on programmes for hacking into iPhones, laptops and even smart TVs and turning them into listening devices – though none of the details have yet been confirmed.

UMBRAGE works in part by getting around the problems of those hacking techniques. Any cyber attack inevitably leaves a trace of how it was done – but by cataloguing other hackers' tricks, those traces could look like they come from someone else entirely.

"The CIA's Remote Devices Branch's UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques 'stolen' from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation," WikiLeaks wrote in its release. "With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the "fingerprints" of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from."

The UMBRAGE project includes a variety of cyber weapons, including tools that can allow data to be deleted, webcams to be spied on and various other survey techniques, according to the documents.