Vault 7

Spectacular Mountain

Vault 7 header
Imagie via wikileaks

In the midst of Paul Ryan’s failure to pass his healthcare bill, and other dramatic political news, a much more interesting story has probably been overlooked. This is of course the Vault 7 leaks, a series of around 8,000 documents that record some of the CIA’s methods of spying and tracking information. The person who leaked this information remains unknown, and the CIA refuses to comment, besides vague remarks.

The leaks first came to light on the website Wikileaks, the controversial platform run by Julian Assange, who has previously been accused of messing with the US elections. Along with the 8,000 documents, was a synopsis of the whole situation, along with a promise to release more similar documents in the future (none have yet arrived), and early access for reporters who did high quality reporting on the leaks.

Some of the more well known leaks do seem to be a major threat on privacy. For example, Weeping Angel, probably the most widely reported virus, allowed the CIA to access certain models of Samsung TVs, allowing them to be used as cameras and microphones to monitor the room the TV was in. This program does still appear to be in the relatively early stages (so far, it has only been delivered via flash drive, and can be removed by unplugging the TV), but is still probably one of the more scary programs that leaked.

In addition to Weeping Angel, there are a multitude of other programs, largely aimed at the Windows operating system and Apple iPhones (the first because of how common it is and the later because it is used by political elites the CIA wants to hack). Overall, the leaks are an astonishing look at the capabilities our intelligence agencies, or at least one of them.