WikiLeaks recently uploaded what it calls Vault 7, which is a series of documents that allegedly expose the hacking tools developed by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The first part of the collection consisting of 8,761 documents that were said to have been acquired from the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Virginia reveals that different kinds of consumer electronics have been targeted by the agency's hacking efforts.
CIA Hacks Against Vehicles
The alleged hacking tools of the CIA include software for compromising smartphones computers and even internet-connect TVs, though Apple has since claimed that the vulnerabilities of the iOS mentioned in the documents have already been patched in the latest version of the mobile operating system.
Among the thousands of documents uploaded to Vault 7 is the information that the CIA has studied the possibility of hacking into the control systems of vehicles. According to WikiLeaks, the CIA can use such attacks to carry out assassinations that are almost undetectable. It is not difficult to come up with the conclusion that this means that the CIA can take over the vehicle and cause it to crash and kill its passengers, which is a dangerous capability if it is actually true.
Car Tech Vulnerability Should Not Come As A Surprise
The vulnerability of modern automobile technology should not come as a surprise, especially as security researchers have warned for several years on how fitting cars with the latest technologies open them up to hackers.
Despite the warnings, almost all current vehicle models have no means of detection against malicious activity in their networks, with nearly no way to respond to hacks that may be carried out against them.
"I think it's a legitimate concern considering all of the computers being added to cars," said Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Kit Walsh, adding that the risk is even greater for self-driving vehicles.
The possibility of hackers hijacking the control systems of a vehicle is not even that farfetched, as back in 2015, researchers showed that they were able to take over and disable a Jeep Cherokee through its infotainment system.
Should The Public Worry Over The CIA's Hacking Tools?
One of the other notable tools mentioned in Vault 7 is known as the Weeping Angel, which is a hack that was created by the CIA to compromise Samsung Smart TVs. Once the hack is activated, when the TV is shut down, it will appear to be off but will actually still be running. The TV can then function as a bug for the CIA, recording conversations and then sending the audio files online to a CIA server.
Does this mean that owners of connected vehicles, Samsung Smart TVs, and all other electronic devices should worry that they have been victimized by the tools mentioned in Vault 7?
There is no need to panic just yet. While the documents appear to be legitimate, there is no proof that the hacking tools have actually been used by the United States government. In addition, the cost of using these tools maybe so high that the government will likely not use it on ordinary citizens.
Nevertheless, it is a good idea to stay protected amid privacy concerns, as WikiLeaks calls upon tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Samsung to come together against the claimed unethical activities of the CIA.