Security Experts Believe That ‘Vault 7’ Represents A Common Public Hack
It has been alleged that the CIA created software and tools with the possibility that the agency could hack into people’s smart devices like televisions, appliances and other household gadgets. This is based on a document that was released by WikiLeaks. However, secure data recovery experts maintain that this technology (although the public has just been made aware of it) was discovered and possibly even used years earlier.
The leaked documents, now known as ‘Vault 7’, are documents that WikiLeaks claims are directly from the CIA. These documents contain information about the agency supposedly targeting certain people through physical hacking and malware on different types of devices such as TVs, computers and phones. Federal officials are currently conducting a full investigation into these claims.
The hack, dubbed ‘Weeping Angel’, allegedly was centered around malware that would give the CIA the ability to listen through Samsung Smart TVs, even when these televisions were turned ‘off’ by the user. The documents have also suggested that for the exploit to work, the malware had to be physically installed on the device.
Which Devices Have The Potential To Be Hacked?
Per the dates and information on the documents, all of the documents were created in a 3-year period, from 2013 to 2016. They detail the hacking that can occur in many popular electronic gadgets. This includes Apple products like iPhones and iPads, the Google Android system and Microsoft Windows phones and tablets. The entire line of Samsung TVs was also on the list.
In 2015, Samsung warned consumers that their devices were subject to this range of susceptibility. The manufacturer spoke with CNN Tech earlier last week, and it stated that it is urgently looking into this security breach. However, it is important to note that smart TVs are devices that are notorious for being vulnerable to security issues. Even in 2013, CNN reported that there was a design flaw with these types of televisions that could allow a hacker to turn on the television’s camera remotely without alerting the consumer the camera had been turned on.
During the Breakpoint Conference of 2015, security researcher, Seung Jin Lee demonstrated how easily smart TVs could be remotely hacked by providing attendees with a demonstration. During the demonstration, it was shown how the device could still be on even though it was in ‘fake off mode’. This is very much like the CIA hacks that were released in the WikiLeaks documents. Even though the television appears to be off to the end user, it is still being powered to allow covert surveillance.
Is Large Scale Surveillance Possible?
Other security experts have stated that the ‘Weeping Angel’ tool is not very useful for gathering a lot of information. It also appears from the documents that the agency does not have the ability to capture video surveillance yet, just audio. It has also been concluded that if physical access is required to install the malware, surveillance cannot occur on a large scale.
The documents also expressed concern that there was the potential for the malware to be removed when the television’s software is updated. In addition, a low maximum availability for storage in combination with the unavailability of Wi-Fi during the fake off mode will make the consistent collection of information almost impossible. Companies continue to release ‘smart’ gadgets. These devices have gaping security holes that can be breached by hackers. Consumers will need to be vigilant about these security breaches to reduce the possibility of their gadgets being subject to a malicious hack.