WikiLeaks latest bombshell has Silicon Valley excited and terrified in equal measure. Julian Assange and Company have announced that they will be releasing CIA proprietary software that will enable technology businesses and those with programming capability to undertake espionage activities at a significant level.
While none of the technology has been released as yet, WikiLeaks has mentioned the types of programs that it will be supplying, and a few lines of code as evidence. Some of the technologies include the ability to access smart TVs, that then give them the appearance of being powered down, while recording everything that’s going on in the room. There are also hacks to access smartphones, and laptop computers – activating both the recording device and video in some cases.
Samsung, Microsoft and Apple – who were named in the WikiLeaks release – have been quick to offer users assurance that they are acting on the claims, and creating patches before any of this technology is released to the general public. This is an interesting response, especially as the named technologies should be unfamiliar to the technology giants, and as mentioned; have not yet been released. Conspiracy theorists have been quick to jump on this point, although it is also worth noting that patches can be created based on vulnerabilities and not the attacking software – but the communication tactic is still being seen as relatively blunt.
The CIA and Republican Party have also been quick to respond, with one senior lawmaker saying that Julian Assange should spend the rest of his life in an orange jumpsuit. The CIA was less polite, with a spokesperson questioning the WikiLeaks founder’s morals, and questioning his self-appointed position as a bastion of truth.
As we wait to see if WikiLeaks has anything to produce, the value of the online platform is now being questioned, not only by government officials but also free speech advocates who note that releases of information seem to be timed and targeted, rather than – as was previously the case – a constant stream of knowledge from whistleblowers, insiders and hackers.
The original concept of WikiLeaks, sharing all information regardless of it’s impact, seems to have gone and in its place is an organisation that targets those it sees as evil, and has many questioning its motives – who is paying the bills, and what is WikiLeak’s relationship with Russia?
In the meantime, download updates for all of your technology devices and stay tuned for the latest on this developing story.