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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

WikiLeaks and how the CIA sees your WhatsApp messages, explained - CNET

"A WikiLeaks data dump claims to detail ways in which the CIA can hack your devices, including phones, computers and TVs. Here's everything we know about WikiLeaks' Vault 7 -- so far.

WikiLeaks, the organization notorious for leaking highly secure government data, published a cache of documents that reportedly exposes tactics the CIA uses to hack into our devices. WikiLeaks released more than 8,700 documents and files -- codenamed "Vault 7" -- on Tuesday, which it says are part of a CIA archive. We haven't yet independently verified the information.

According to WikiLeaks, the CIA lost control of an archive that details the ways in which it hacks devices. The archive landed in the hands of "former US government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive."

What do I need to know?

Here's the TL;DR: If the info WikiLeaks exposed is accurate, the CIA may be equipped with a variety of tools that let it hack into your phone, smart TV, computer and router. That's basically all the things you own that are connected to the internet.

It turns out that the CIA's tools can be used to read encrypted messages sent on otherwise secure apps like WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram.

What kind of devices can the CIA hack?

If the report is true, the CIA can hack devices such as:

Android phones


Smart TVs (the report specifically outs Samsung TVs)


Windows and Linux computers

Mac computers

I spy with an iPhone: What tech's open to the CIA?

Can the CIA really read all of my WhatsApp (and other app's) private messages?

WikiLeaks' data dump suggests that, yes, the CIA can read your private messages before they even get encrypted. But again, that's if the info is real. We don't know that yet.

But I thought WhatsApp, Signal and other apps encrypted my messages?

Those apps do employ encryption, but that's useless if the CIA can hack your phone. If you crack the operating system, you don't need to crack the app.

The OS shows what's on screen, listens to you typing or dictating words, and captures that unencrypted original data. If software -- like the alleged CIA hacking software -- can access the phone at that privileged level, it doesn't matter whether data is encrypted at rest (stored on disk/flash memory) or in flight (sent over a network)."

WikiLeaks and how the CIA sees your WhatsApp messages, explained - CNET

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