While North Korea has been shooting ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan (they’re really making a splash!), the United States has been spying on her citizens.
At least, the CIA has “sophisticated software tools…to break into smart phones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions,” according to the New York Times reporting on the newly published WikiLeaks dubbed Vault 7. So what does that mean for you?
Big Brother is watching.
It’s like something out of George Orwell’s book 1984, in which the government had eyes and ears on all its citizens at any given time. Welcome to the dystopian future we’ve been reading about for so long.
As an example of what the CIA’s malware can do, let’s turn our attention to everyone’s favorite living room decorative piece: the television.
Televisions are smarter than ever, thanks to Internet connectivity. They know your voice and they can follow commands, like “pause the show,” or “fast forward” (unfortunately they still don’t understand the command “make me popcorn”). But, according to WikiLeaks, one of the CIA’s surveillance techniques “infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones.” These microphones pick up everything you say and relay it back.
As scary as that sounds, the name of that particular malware is even more frightening. It’s called “Weeping Angle.” As a Doctor Who fan, that freaks me out.
As is customary in the social media world, Twitter is all about the jokes (which are actually pretty good ideas for staying CIA free). One such tweet shows a man’s new television set:
— TrumpLove (@BoutThad) March 7, 2017
But it’s not just televisions. Smart phones are on the list of targets for malware, including the difficult-to-crack iPhones. Certain cars can be controlled from CIA headquarters. Missiles can be fired from anywhere.
WikiLeaks contrasts these malware and other software to the relatively short-lived effects of “bullets, bombs [and] missiles.” Bombs, missiles, and other weapons do their damage and then no more. With most CIA malware, it can “live for days or even years after it has reached its ‘target.’”
Cyber weapons are inherently difficult—if not impossible—to keep under control. Cyber weapons are actually just computer programs, which, like any other computer program out there, can be pirated by anybody. Once released, these programs can circle the globe in mere seconds. This allows anyone to get their hands on the coding behind the program, making it quite easy for “peer states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike” to take control of it and use it how they would like, according to WikiLeaks.
Basically, our enemies can use this against us to our detriment.
This new leak from WikiLeaks is massive, with over 8,000 documents and files. If you would like to learn more on your own, you can visit WikiLeaks’ press release for an overview, and from there take a look at the documents involved.
We’re living in a dystopian future. The government has eyes and ears everywhere you go. It’s also possible that these malware programs have been—or could be—picked up by some other agency that wishes the United States harm. I can’t say if they do or not, or what they would do should they obtain that information, but I can recommend a course of action that will help you remain safe and provided for during this and future times of uncertainty.
If you haven’t started yet, now is the prefect time to start. If you have already made strides in preparedness, then keep going! There’s no sense in stopping. The more you have, the more comfortable you’ll be. We never can truly know how long a disaster or crisis will last, so the more food, water, and gear, the better.
Vault 7 shows us just what our government is capable of, and what they might even be doing with our own devices. Likewise, Vault 7 is also a warning that we may be at risk to cyber attacks from other countries that are not exactly friendly with us. While it’s still unclear just how serious that threat is, it still should boost our efforts in preparing for anything. Cyber attacks can hurt us in more than just taking down the power grid (which would be most unpleasant), so it’s good to be prepared for any scenario.
Written by Steven M.