WikiLeaks organization has raised further privacy concerns with its latest claims. Recent documents published on the webpage state the CIA can hack TVs, PCs, and even phones.
Julian Assange’s group released thousands of documents explaining how the US agency can crack devices from Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft. The document claims the CIA has secret hacking tools to access any smartphone anytime.
WikiLeaks has published everything from emails addressed to Hillary Clinton’s campaign to US diplomatic cables during times of war. The organization has a long track of leaking top secret government documents.
The new alleged CIA documents were published on Tuesday under the name “Vault 7.” Vault 7 could potentially reveal the agency’s most secret hacking techniques, the ones they use to penetrate systems all over the world.
No media has been able to verify the authenticity of the leak, however, CBS News reported that experts that are starting to check the documents say it appears to be legitimate.
The magnitude of the leak
If the documents are real, it gives you an idea of how much the CIA can know about your life. It should make people reevaluate how much information they include on their phones, and whether or not we should include sensitive information in our apps like passwords or private photos and videos.
The magnitude of the hacking tools suggests the CIA can break into operating systems running Android phones, iPhones, Windows, and Linux computers.
It means it can access data stored on the device, encrypted messages send through popular apps like Telegram or WhatsApp, and even read SMS, emails, and MMS. In other cases, the CIA could even hack gadgets like the Apple Watch or the Samsung Smart TV.
Paul Rosenzweig, the founder of the cybersecurity company Redbranch Consulting, said it’s unlikely the CIA is the sole group that knows about these hacking tools. It means there are vulnerabilities in the major mobile OS, and, according to the expert, Russians and Chinese must also know about this.
The privacy versus security debate
The leaks surface after a year of debate over government investigators accessing private devices. It brings yet again the debate over privacy versus security, and if any reason is justifying enough to give a government the rights to survey private communications.
The debate started when the US Department of Justice asked Apple to help them open an encrypted device belonging to one of the shooters of the San Bernardino incident. Apple refused to help as the company said not even a crime investigation was reason enough to breach the privacy of a device, and after they fought back in court, the FBI said it obtained another way to enter the phone.
Said another way could very well be CIA’s secret tools. If the Agency can break into a smartphone’s OS, it wouldn’t need to break the encryption; it can simply gain the same kind of access as a regular user after they unlock the phone of the computer.