WikiLeak’s CIA disclosure: Missing the real issue [Commentary]

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It was hard to escape the massive news coverage about the WikiLeaks publication of CIA documents. Keep in mind that there were a number of other high-profile news events that is receiving a fair amount of coverage as well. It is difficult for me to understand why the ability to hack computers and devices and look and listen in is a shock to anyone!

After all, ComputerWorld ran an opinion piece way back in July 2007 titled ” The stalker in your pocket.” In that published piece, they discussed what they termed “snoopware. The piece spoke of the legal and illegal uses of this capability that enables outsiders to covertly take control of a phone’s electronics to “listen, watch and spy on their victims.”

That was nearly a decade ago and hardly news to the vast majority of cybersecurity professionals. So let’s look at the general population that probably does not frequently read a tech publication like ComputerWorld. I looked for a more generally read news source and found a report by CNN back in 2009 titled “Calling all spies: Has cell phone spy tech got your number?” In that article, they wrote: “The virus allows outsiders to send text messages, access web sites, make phone calls as well as turn on a device’s camera and microphone.”

Now, for the Smart TVs: In December 2012, the vulnerabilities of Smart TVs were discussed in an article on the website Naked Security. What was disclosed on the WikiLeaks website has been known and discussed publicly for years.

I talked with one cybersecurity professional that said: “We should all certainly hope that the CIA, NSA and U.S. military have cyber capabilities that are newer and equally or more robust and not nearly a decade old. After all, they are supposed to be protecting all of us. Perhaps the greatest concern and what should create outage from all U.S. citizens regardless of political affiliation is the nearly continuous leaking of sensitive information! What will it take to stop the leaks?”

Now that is certainly an interesting observation!