The latest WikiLeaks scandal isn't good, especially the tech industry.
The secretive Central Intelligence Agency is again under the spotlight over the latest cybersecurity documents exposed by WikiLeaks. Code-named "Vault 7," these confidential documents contain details about the different tools such as malware, viruses, Trojans, and zero-day systems developed by the CIA to hack smartphones, computers, and appliances like Samsung Smart TVs.
This is bad news for tech firms, whose very lifeline depends on the integrity, security, and dependability of their products and services. Companies like Google and Apple might be vulnerable, considering their respective Android and iOS are used by majority of smartphones.
Those Tools Are Not Toys
In a press release by WikiLeaks about Vault 7, the foremost concern for the said leaks is global security. These "cyber weapons" can get loose and easily spread around the world and used by rogue states, cyber mafia, terrorist groups, or even teenage hackers.
"There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber 'weapons.' Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such 'weapons,' which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade," said Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor. He added that the concerns go beyond the cyberspace, as it can affect "political, legal, and forensic" fields.
Security Risks 'R Us
The recent WikiLeaks dump may not be proof about any actual hacking done by the CIA, but it is already a cause for concern for ordinary citizens. For common modern-day consumers whose daily lives are integrated with technology (smartphones and emails, among others), the WikiLeaks issue can really have an impact. More than geopolitical concerns, the issue can affect us on a personal level.
One such concern is identity theft. We put a lot of personal information online. Once compromised by malicious programs (like the ones developed by the CIA), it can put our personal details susceptible to theft by criminals.
Another concern is invasion of privacy. The latest WikiLeaks docs proves that the CIA have programs that can turn an innocent Samsung Smart TV into a listening device. If this technology falls into the wrong hands, our private lives will be under the creepy eyes of a malicious hacker.
Another concern we can be susceptible to are scams and thefts, as unsecure networks compromised by Trojans and malware can lead us to fake sites that can steal our financial information such as credit card or bank account numbers.
As always, an ounce of prevention is always the best. So the best way to combat digital threats is to make sure none of our private information is online. Always upgrade and update your antivirus software and smartphone OS, and be extra vigilant when visiting websites.
Bad News Is Bad For Business
So the capability to combat these security threats boils down to the tech industry. Knowing that Android and iOS have been specifically targeted by the CIA hacking, the smartphone market can suffer a hit. Panicked people might freak out and this can affect stocks and shares.
Thankfully, companies like Apple are taking a more proactive approach to combat these threats. Apple released a statement that it already addressed the issue highlighted in the Vault 7 issue such as iOS exploits. Apple has patched this and told everybody that there is no cause to panic.
"Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers' privacy and security. The technology built into today's iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers, and we're constantly working to keep it that way," an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch.
The company added that its software and products are designed in such a way that security updates will reach customers right away, and almost 80 percent of Apple customers have the latest iOS version running on their devices.
"While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities," the spokesperson continued. "We always urge customers to download the latest iOS to make sure they have the most recent security updates."
The companies that can be affected by these leaks are internet service providers, antivirus software services, desktop operating systems like Windows and Linux, consumer electronics like TVs and cameras, and smartphone apps that deal with personal financial data such as Uber and Amazon.
Other tech companies haven't responded about the issue as of this writing.