Yesterday (7 March, 2017), Wikileaks released an absolute treasure trove of CIA secret misdeeds, misinformation, technical knowhow, surveillance capability and much more juicy stuff.
I’m not going to go into the politics, rights/wrongs or even whether it’s real or not (independent experts are leaning to ‘yes’). There are many others who are doing that.
I do want to focus on the incredibly fascinating material about the CIA’s malware and other tools able to infect phones, TVs, cars and so on, and what’s more – bypass the inbuilt encryption in apps such as Whatsapp etc by grabbing communications before they are encrypted.
There’s a nice simplicity to the deception – the impact is still the same, even if the deception is like a digital Ocean’s 11.
For example, the CIA attack system Fine Dining, provides 24 decoy applications for CIA spies to use. To witnesses, the spy appears to be running a program showing videos (e.g VLC), presenting slides (Prezi), playing a computer game (Breakout2, 2048) or even running a fake virus scanner (Kaspersky, McAfee, Sophos). But while the decoy application is on the screen, the underlaying system is automatically infected and ransacked.
If all true, this is a complete convergence of all the encryption, cyber hacking, and internet of things fears of the past few years – that the government can and will listen to all your phone data, the TV is listening to everything you say and reporting it, and you car can be taken over and be controlled (what would this mean for those robot powered cars!). If the hacking of the Democrat party servers wasn’t enough proof, we have truly entered a new era of potential warfare. It’s the ultimate tinfoil moment of the modern age.
Well, almost, the only thing missing here is a nefarious AI powering the whole thing (search terms: CIA, Project Skynet – I know, the NSA had a program called Skynet). There’s an odd sense of “well duh”, considering that we already knew that many of these things were already being attempted, or proved possible (eg the car hack). That an agency has already allegedly achieved this success feels very much a confirmation of that fate as it is a signpost of things to come.
It’s also seemingly a confirmation of all the ranting and discussion that has gone on for the past few years about the role and over-reach of government.
This will be an amazing one to watch as it unfolds.