Last week WikiLeaks made a game-changing discovery – your smart gadgets are vulnerable to hacking. Gasp you should. They released a stash of documents that apparently details CIA hacking methods, including how to get into your phone, computer and TV. In other words, WikiLeaks has confirmed that the CIA can actually do its job. So should you be worried, now that all of your FB cat videos, Insta food pics and Netflix preferences are potentially compromised? Well since it’s illegal for the CIA to spy on American citizens you can probably breathe easy that they aren’t listening to you singing in the shower. But if the CIA can hack into anything connected to the internet, then so can foreign spy agencies and criminal hackers, sooo maybe think twice before discussing state secrets in front of Alexa.
Is this the end of privacy, you ask? Well actually the CIA toolkit seems to confirm that end-to-end encryption works – meaning your WhatsApp messages aren’t so hackable, unless your phone is physically bugged. But this kind of targeted surveillance is costly, risky and the kind of thing you only do to people who seem pretty suss. So unless you end up on a terrorist watch list, you’re probably good. Of course if you want to be extra careful, companies like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Google recommend that you keep your gadgets updated and virus-free. Fun fact #394: as the Internet of Things continues to expand, we will become more and more vulnerable. If this keeps you up at night, your only option is to go low tech – buying paper books, playing DVDs and talking to people face to face. Unacceptable you say? You could always go gadget-less and move to a desert island.
So if all of this sounds vaguely familiar, then you’ve probably read George Orwell's dystopian classic 1984, where people are constantly spied on by Big Brother, the all-seeing government (through telescreens, among other things). We’re not quite there yet, but privacy and security are going to continue to be major concerns of the digital age and there are no easy answers. At the end of the day this leak is more embarrassing than damaging – if the CIA can't protect their own cyber-arsenal, how the heck is anyone else supposed to? And according to WikiLeaks, it released less than 1% of the CIA documents in its possession. Keep calm and stay tuned.
Feel like there’s a mole at your work? Movie for your mood: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy