WikiLeaks: CIA can hack smartphones, TVs

The site claims the agency has betrayed the public's trust.

The CIA's hacking secrets exposed? Tuesday's expose may have you questioning just how secure are your smartphones, even your televisions.

WikiLeaks released thousands of documents revealing the Feds' top secret techniques. The anti-secrecy website claims the agency's hacking everyday devices, intercepting phone calls, reading encrypted text messages, turning Smart TVs into eaves-dropping devices.

10News talked with a local cybersecurity expert about what the breach means for you and what can you do to protect your privacy.

“There's always a trade-off between security and privacy,” says Abacode Cybersecurity Director and USF Information Technology professor Jeremy Rasmussen.

Rasmussen says the technology we love can easily be turned against us; all hackers need is an IP address.

“If it can be reachable over the network, it can be hacked, and potentially weaponized. So, yeah, I'm worried about that,” he said.

WikiLeaks claims the data is from a former U.S. government hacker or contractor who reveals the CIA’s cyber espionage tools.

“This is the CIA's Edward Snowden. This is huge in terms of what it will tell the adversaries. We’ll essentially have to start over in building tools to get information from our adversaries, just like we did with Snowden,” said Michael Morell, former CIA Acting Director.

One tool targets Samsung smart TVs. A consumer thinks the television is turned off, but the “fake mode” allows sound from the room to be recorded and sent to a server.

The documents also cite the ability to hack iPhones or Google Android smartphones, accessing a location, copying and sending audio and text from the phone, and turning on the camera and microphone.

WikiLeaks says the CIA can also bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram, allowing the agency to monitor terrorist groups using the encrypted apps.

The documents reveal the agency even talked about infecting car systems to get information about where it's been and potentially take control of self-driving capabilities.

Rasmussen says the CIA can use the never-seen malware to exploit weaknesses in the systems, called “Zero Day.”

“Unless you're some high-profile diplomat or are terrorists or celebrities, you're probably not going to be someone they're going to spend the effort and time to use one of our very carefully selected and crafted Zero Day attacks on," Rasmussen said.

"Those are worth something, they're worth hundreds of thousands of dollars."

By law, the CIA should not be using these tools here in America. And the leak doesn't provide evidence it's happening.

“I would like to make sure we always have due process and follow the rules of law in our country, that this massive cyber capability that we have is never turned against her own citizens,” said Rasmussen.

But you can better protect your privacy and devices, Rasmussen says, by checking for firmware or software updates daily, even on your smart TV.

Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) is calling for a Congressional investigation into the document’s details calling the potential privacy concerns “mind-boggling.”

This appears to potentially be the largest leak of CIA documents in history.

Right now, the CIA and White House aren't commenting.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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