Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Big Brother Is Here

Maybe it really did start in 1984.
At a time when consumers everywhere are being urged to avail themselves of the “internet of things”, it turns out that the CIA got there first (by a long way). And it is not just we who have the ability to control our appliances – from our computers to our phones to our televisions, even our front-door locks, heating systems and, potentially, our cars – but the thousands beavering away on the government payrolls at Langley, Virginia, and Cheltenham, England.


[T]he publication of a huge cache of secret data, courtesy of WikiLeaks, will not only confirm your worst fears but suggest that the US and UK intelligence services have already gone much further in their planning than most of us had contemplated in our wildest imaginings.


[H]owever relaxed you may be about personal privacy, you probably don’t want the security services – friendly or otherwise – logging on to your computer during the night, monitoring your activities via your television or second-guessing your in-car computer.


And who gave the authority for the sort and scale of electronic intrusion that is now possible?


I am going to treat the Samsung smart TV in the corner of our sitting room with a new respect. I might try saying “good morning” and “good evening” to it, politely, even try out a few languages. If and when it replies in Mandarin, then it is probably far too late to be worried.

  The Guardian
Anbody who was worried about domestic surveillance and bought a smart TV after the Edward Snowden revelations is not smart enough to stay ahead of the game.
The thousands of leaked documents focus mainly on techniques for hacking and reveal how the CIA cooperated with British intelligence to engineer a way to compromise smart televisions and turn them into improvised surveillance devices.

The leak, named “Vault 7” by WikiLeaks, will once again raise questions about the inability of US spy agencies to protect secret documents in the digital age.


The new documents appear to be from the CIA’s 200-strong Center for Cyber Intelligence and show in detail how the agency’s digital specialists engage in hacking. Monday’s leak of about 9,000 secret files, which WikiLeaks said was only the first tranche of documents it had obtained, were all relatively recent, running from 2013 to 2016.


A programme called Weeping Angel describes how to attack a Samsung F8000 TV set so that it appears to be off but can still be used for monitoring.


In ‘Fake Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the internet to a covert CIA server.”

Weeping Angel indeed.
[I]t is understood the documents are genuine and a hunt is under way for the leakers or hackers responsible for the leak.
I bet. I wonder if this is the "second leaker" mentioned in the Snowden documentary, or if this is a new person. The ship of state is getting awfully leaky. So I also wonder if the state's habit of busting brilliant teenage hackers and offering them a job with the government as an alternative to prison has been a short-sighted approach.
Asked about the claims regarding vulnerabilities in consumer products, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said: “I’m not going to comment on that. Obviously that’s something that’s not been fully evaluated.”
Are they worried about T-Rump's obsessive TV-viewing?  Hopefully he doesn't have a smart TV.
Asked about Trump’s praise for WikiLeaks during last year’s election, when it published emails hacked from Clinton’s campaign chairman, Spicer told the Guardian: “The president said there’s a difference between Gmail accounts and classified information. The president made that distinction a couple of weeks ago.”
Except Hillary's email account contained classified information. So...where's the difference?
WikiLeaks has been criticised in the past for dumping documents on the internet unredacted and this time the names of officials and other information have been blacked out.

WikiLeaks shared the information in advance with Der Spiegel in Germany and La Repubblica in Italy.

My 85-year-old mother says she's happy to have the government know everything so they can catch the "bad guys". It was no use pointing out to her that the "bad guys" obviously know how to avoid getting caught because the government hasn't been too successful at catching them before they strike unless the government was the one putting them up to it in the first place. She's not alone. I've heard that sentiment in lines at airports every time I've flown anywhere.

Now, I ask you, how could the CIA catch "bad guys" through exploiting the ability to hack your TV? How will they get all the bad guys to buy a Samsung smart TV? And if they don't, what's the point of "Fake Off" mode? Who are they watching?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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