So here is the deal. Wikileaks announces that they have received a trove of intelligence documents, purported to be from the Central Intelligence Agency. They go on to explain that the documents outline the ability of the CIA to hack into virtually everything. Perhaps a slight exaggeration on my part. The CIA, naturally, declines to comment on the matter. This should be no surprise…and why would they! Wikileaks does not identify their source, naturally. Analysts, journalists and everyone sitting at a computer terminal weighs in with their opinion. Presuming the leaks details, the CIA is reading all those articles, comments, analysis and speculation. Presuming that, Wikileaks could next report on a leak of documents discussing the CIA reading everyone’s online activity discussing the leaks…there is no end to this rabbit hole!
OK, let’s consider some perspective. You have a computer, you access the internet…you can be hacked by anyone who also has a computer. You have a smart phone…it is a computer. It can be hacked by anyone. Note: many will recall the FBI efforts to get Apple to release the password or code for a phone under investigation in a terrorism attack in Southern California. The software company refused and the FBI eventually used a hacking tool from a surprise, hacker, to unlock the phone. The question here, couldn’t the FBI have simply gone to the CIA and asked nicely, please unlock this phone? The possible answer here might be, they wanted to “legally” access the phone. I don’t know. These are some issues to consider. You can be hacked, despite what the FBI issue suggested.
Now let’s go deeper. Among the questions asked by more than a few journalists was about the ability of the CIA to use hacking tools to effect covert assassinations. This presumes that the CIA does assassinations. First note this; Tesla, Google, Toyota, Uber and several other interests are all working on Self Driving Vehicle technology…computers. Recall the opening points…computers get hacked, ask Wikileaks! We, the public are standing by waiting for this technology to be dispatched out to our currently semi dumb cars, combining with the computers currently in our cars, so that we can do stuff while riding down the road. A recent KNBC TV news program demonstrated hackers on the program, taking over control of the car as it drove down the road, re-directing it, stopping the car and changing the radio channel. They didn’t assassinate the driver…but!
Most of us have Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google, Cell phones, GPS devices, laptops and tablets. Bringing all those devices together we first give our personal information to the Social Media companies. Yeah, they employ some privacy services, but really, the CIA didn’t? Most of us have credit cards and bank cards. We use them to access networks and accounts…via computers and radio services (cellular). Those companies have our personal and so called “confidential” information. We have freely given all that access and information to them. We do so in part because we want their services, they have assured us of our safety and security (better than the CIA?) and we don’t seem to mind. Those companies track our usage…because it helps them to serve us better, they say. So they know where we go, who we know, what we do, who we do business with, what our medical information is, what our banking information and activity is and our social security and employment information. And we gave it to them or allowed them to collect and track it. Because we trust them.
All this is true on our part. We trust them. We gave it to them. Question; who are they?
Do you know who at Apple, Facebook or the other many thousands of companies, devices and services, who these people are? Virtually anyone of the many thousands of employees of these companies have access to anywhere from a little to all of our personal and private information. What level of background checks did those trusted people go through. Were they polygraphed for past criminal or loyalty history? Was their history vetted to know where they came from, who they associated with and what their opinions were on matters that might determine their conduct and trustworthiness? No! OK!
According to the debate surrounding the leaks, people were concerned that the CIA could hack our toasters, home alarms, TV, computers and phones. Yeah, if they have that ability they could likely do those things. So too could all the hackers in this world. After-all, who do you think the intelligence agencies must use to master these methods?
You don’t seem to be so worried about the hackers doing these things on their own. You don’t seem to be worried about the unknown persons at the many companies who have active access, doing these things. You don’t seem to be concerned that using cellular data and GPS data one of any of these people could know where you are and when you are there. You are not at home…they can know that. You are not with your husband or wife…they can know that. You just used your credit card at a hotel…they can know that. You have online subscriptions to sites that you wouldn’t want everyone at your church, synagogue, PTA to know about.
The worry seems to be targeting the CIA, ignoring the hackers themselves, ignoring Russia, China, North Korea or whatever little knucklehead geek master sitting in the basement of their parents home with some mad cyber skills. Ok, I get it. The CIA does do extensive backgrounds of their employees, they do polygraphs of them as well. They go through extensive interviews to the point of an embarrassing level of personal scrutiny. But, never the less, it’s the CIA that is the problem here.