WikiLeaks unveiled their latest dump of secret information, dubbed Vault 7, to the world on March 7. The popular news-leaking website, claims that the CIA has lost control of most of its hacking arsenal. This arsenal includes malware, viruses, and trojans. The CIA has also hoarded and weaponized something called “Zero Day” exploits, which are holes in software that are unknown to the manufacturer. This security hole can then be exploited by hackers before the manufacturer becomes aware of it and attempts to fix it.
To put this simply, the CIA has the capability to take control of smart TVs, personal computers, smartphones, and even newer car models that rely heavily on computers within the vehicle.
The attack against smart TVs, specifically those made by Samsung, allows the TVs to remain in a “fake off mode” which could then act as a microphone transmitting information back to a CIA server. This process is nicknamed “Weeping Angel,” an ironic but fitting name for the malicious program.
Cell phones go through different models and have constant updates all the time. Software updates are meant to work out any kinks, or holes in the software, that made their way through the factory. Some flaws can remain unfixed, and certain malicious programs can take advantage of those unfixed issues. Taking advantage of flaws in software is something of a specialty for the CIA.
According to WikiLeaks, the CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) has developed numerous attacks and programs that can remotely hack and control smartphone devices. Infected devices can then be instructed to send the user’s location, audio, and text communications, and even secretly activate the phone’s cameras and microphone. No brand or model of smartphone is safe, but iPhones and Android devices are in the spotlight due to their popularity.
Since 2014, the CIA has had an interest in manipulating the vehicle control systems in newer models of cars. Most, if not all, car models made within the last few years have computers within them that more efficiently perform tasks that purely mechanical cars could accomplish in the past. Certain parts of new cars are controlled electronically, like the accelerator and brake pedals.
“The purpose of such [vehicle] control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” as explained by WikiLeaks. This idea has not been proven to be true, nor have any evidence of “CIA assassinations” occurred. While the claim about vehicle manipulation may seem outlandish, it is still a possibility and one that the CIA is supposedly working on.
The attack on smartphones is, for obvious reasons, the most off-putting piece from the WikiLeaks article. Not every family has a Smart TV, not everyone has a brand new car, but 68% of American adults have a smartphone. That percentage is only concerning adults; anyone still in school is not accounted for in the estimate. The vast majority of students at Metea Valley alone have a smartphone, as evidenced by teachers having to remind students to put away their phones during class. This affects all of us, not just adults. What the CIA is doing to this country affects everyone.