Thousands of leaked secret Central Intelligence Agency documents have appeared showing how the CIA hacked into phones, computers and internet-connected televisions surfaced on Tuesday.
But for ordinary consumers, there was a surprising and very reassuring fact: encryption apps on smartphones, such as Signal and WhatsApp are very secure and the Wiki leaks documents show they still present a massive problem for governments and hackers.
The “Vault 7” data dump by WikiLeaks was just the latest in a long line of embarrassing disclosures for the intelligence community from the anti-secrecy website, which the U.S. has cited as working with alleged Russian government hackers in tampering with the 2016 presidential election. The documents describe the CIA’s efforts to hack mobile phones and even “smart TVs,” using computer exploits they bought or developed, and stealing techniques and code from other nation-state hackers such as Russia and China to hide their tracks.
1. The “endpoint” is everything. Protect access to your devices and don’t install software or plugin USB devices from unknown sources.
2. Mobile devices are for the most part secure. But hackers choose the path of least resistance and as a result, most people will want to worry more about a phishing email or text leading to a malicious website as the source of an infection, rather than someone hacking into your phone.
3. Encryption matters. Use WhatApp or Signal over text messages and phone calls.
4. If you’re a target of government hacking, you may want to rethink any Internet-of-things-type devices you have around the house. From Amazon’s Echo to smart TVs, any device with an internet connection can be programmed to secretly record conversations and beam the data.
For more information on securing your computers, servers and mobile devices, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 04 557 1570.