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The Wikileaks CIA Stash May Prove Interesting, But Not Necessarily for the Hacks 

The software tools revealed by the leak are sinister, unsurprising—and potentially politically explosive.

Jamie Condliffe writes: Wikileaks has released a huge number of files that it claims to be the “largest ever publication of confidential documents” from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. It includes details of a number of hacking tools, though at first blush they don’t appear to be as incendiary as their potential political ramifications.

“To be sure, such hacks are sinister. But if we learned anything from Snowden’s disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance programs in 2013, it’s that government agencies feel it necessary to hack any technology the public chooses to use.”

The controversial organization published the first tranche of what it says will become a vast collection called Vault 7 on the morning of March 7. The first wave, called Year Zero, contains 8,761 documents and files from between 2013 and 2016.

At this point in time it’s impossible to have scoured the entire database. But Wikileaks claims that it contains descriptions of tools from the CIA’s hacking program. They are said to include malware that can turn Samsung TVs into covert listening posts, tools to remotely control vehicles, and a number of means to render encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal redundant.

[Read the full story here, at MIT Technology Review]

None of these approaches are particularly earth-shattering. Samsung had already admitted that its smart TVs could effectively spy on you. Security consultants showed that they could remotely control a Jeep Cherokee two years ago.

“None of these approaches are particularly earth-shattering. Samsung had already admitted that its smart TVs could effectively spy on you.”

And as Edward Snowden points out, the files don’t reveal a problem with encrypted messaging services themselves, though they do reveal that the CIA has a number of targeted exploits that allow them to gain partial remote access to iOS and Android.

To be sure, such hacks are sinister. But if we learned anything from Snowden’s disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance programs in 2013, it’s that government agencies feel it necessary to hack any technology the public chooses to use. And, unsurprisingly, little seems to have changed four years on. If the tools that Wikileaks is choosing to highlight in its first announcement of the new files are the most explosive, then the rest look set to underwhelm. … (read more)

Source: MIT Technology Review

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