WikiLeaks exposes CIA surveillance of smartphones

Yesterday, whistleblowing agency WikiLeaks revealed documents that accused the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of spying on people across the world through their smartphones and PCs. These documents alleged that tech companies like Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, Google and WhatsApp were all affected.

The WikiLeaks documents pointed out how these tech companies unknowingly aided the CIA in their hacking. According to the documents, tech companies could have prevented this breach in privacy by providing enough security on their devices and platforms. However, they failed to do that. Thus they left loopholes that the CIA exploited.

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This leak described various CIA hacking tools that could convert smartphones and smart TVs into “covert microphones”. From these infected phones, a hacker could find out the owner’s geolocation. He could also gather audio and text communication, camera recordings and microphone recordings. Smart TVs would record conversations and send to the hacker’s server, even if they appear to be switched off. One can see, therefore, that this is one of the biggest cases of invasion of privacy in recent times.

According to BBC, the companies involved have responded to the allegations in varying degrees. Apple was the most vocal. Buzzfeed writer John Paczkowski posted a picture which contained a statement from Apple. The statement read,

“Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ privacy and security. The technology built into today’s iPhones represents the best data security available to customers, with nearly 80 percent of users running the latest version of our operating system. While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities. We always urge customers to download the latest iOS to make sure they have the most recent security updates”.

 

USA Today states that Microsoft, Google, Samsung and WhatsApp have not made any specific statement on the matter, but they promised to look into it.

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