Once the Wikileaks released thousands of documents that uncover an extensive amount of hacking tools used by the CIA, including a wide range of programs and backdoors that allow the wiretapping of smartphones, personal computers and even smart TVs, the whole world has once again had the chance to learn that it’s not the mysterious “Russian hackers” that pose a real threat to the international security, but the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States. The tale about “Russian hackers”, which was extensively used by the CIA and closely affiliated agencies in their propaganda war was necessary to whitewash American intelligence agencies, which are established total surveillance over their own politicians and those governing foreign states.
Therefore, it is not surprising that today the CIA was subjected to extensive criticism both on the international stage and in the United States itself. The spokesman for the Citizens’ Civil Liberties Protection Group, Nathan White is convinced that digital security has been jeopardized for years because of CIA’s malicious practices of collecting information about vulnerabilities, instead of seeking cooperation with companies to address them.
The CIA documents describe methods that allow them to break into the operating systems of both Android and iOS, enabling themselves to read the messages sent through WhatsApp and Signal.
The documents released by WikiLeaks showed that the CIA, together with its counterparts from the British special services, has even found a way of hacking Samsung’s Smart TVs by adapting some of the tools they had to monitor the owners of such TV sets. Within the framework of the project, code-named “Weeping Angel” the CIA, they learned to secretly turn the built-in microphone . Moreover, the exploit allowed Western intelligence services to make it when the TV seemed turned off, whereas in fact it was operating, recorded the all conversations for them to be transmitted to the CIA server. In a recent show The Late Show, former CIA director Michael Hayden confirmed the existence of such an toll in the CIA arsenal and even called it “wonderful.” According to him, “bad people also use Samsung TVs.” He also said that the CIA didn’t plan to use this surveillance strategy “against fellow Americans.” As for the people from other countries, he did not specify anything, thus making it clear that there are various opportunities.
In the documents published by WikiLeaks, nothing is said about other TV models, but this does not mean that the CIA or other special services did not find a way to hack them. Moreover, in 2013, LG, was accused of the fact that even if the user turned off all “data collection” settings on his TV, it still collected all sorts of information about him.
Sony TVs, by the way, also collect information about the habits of their viewers and send it “where necessary”. In older televisions models, there’s a function called Disable Upload Data which was pretty specific in the way it worked.
The WikiLeaks revelations showed that the CIA has been taking advantage of the US consulate in Frankfurt am Main to conduct hacker operations all across Europe, which triggered an investigation started by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office of the Federal Republic of Germany. However, it is unlikely that any of these “investigations” will lead to any steps against the agency that carries out unlawful espionage activities in Germany. After all, similar facts were made public before and no measures were taken by Angela Merkel and her government at that time. For those who don’t remember such facts, it would be beneficial to recall that as early as 2014, the US intelligence services had been collecting data about German citizens, as if it was a vassal state. Moreover, for several years, the German intelligence service BND within the framework of a special operation Eikanal, transmitted data about its citizens to the US National Security Agency (NSA), through the world’s largest point of exchange of Internet traffic DE-CIX in Frankfurt On the Main, as it’s been reported by Suddeutsche Zeitung. According to the released data, the NSA thus intercepted up to 500 million telephone calls and Internet messages every month. And all this was done in spite of the fact that private information about German citizens is protected by the Constitution of Germany
But Germany is not the only target, as similar activities were carried on in Britain and a number of other countries. So, in 2015, the British The Guardian has already stated that for at least 7 years straight intercepted electronic messages sent by US citizens and British subjects in the UK, along with those sent by millions of foreigners, were shared with the US intelligence agencies by the Center for Government Communication of Great Britain. Those actions resulted in a specialized tribunal recognizing the fact of UK’s direct violation of international conventions on human rights, but the US spying dozzer carries on its activities across Europe.
Moreover, on February 19, 2015, it became known that the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its British partner, the Government Communications Headquarters, had stolen the encryption keys of the world’s largest SIM card manufacturer Gemalto, which allowed the special services of the two countries to wiretap phone conversations and intercept data sent by mobile devices that have a SIM card produced by Gemalto installed in them. This revelation was made public by The Intercept.
The New York Times would note that, the CIA scrambled to assess and contain the damage from the release by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents That cataloged the agency’s cyberspying capabilities, temporarily halting work on some projects.
But in order to stop this outburst of espionage activities of the USA in the world, international players are to start asking question, applying pressure on Washington through the UN framework and through other international organizations, for its numerous violations of the most basic human rights. And the international community must impose severe sanctions on the US through court decisions for this blatant case of espionage.