If the WikiLeaks revelation about CIA hacking capabilities is any indication, the bugging of Trump Tower could have been done without wiretaps or formal court warrants.
That’s because it is now confirmed that the U.S. government has the ability to use everyday items to listen in on private conversations.
WikiLeaks unloaded what it called the largest-ever release of CIA secrets, exposing the agency’s “global covert hacking program” that is capable of invading your computer, your smartphone, your automobile. Even your TV can be turned into a remote microphone. You may turn the TV off, but the CIA is able to compromise the set so the microphone continues to record your every word. Same with your smartphone.
You’re not technically being bugged, but the CIA hack turns your TV or phone into a defacto bug.
More than 8,700 CIA documents were published as part of “Year Zero,” the first in a series of leaks WikiLeaks has dubbed “Vault 7.”
These “weaponized exploits” are used against “Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows and Samsung TVs.” Even the newer smart cars sporting Internet connectivity can be hacked and taken over by the government. The same goes for cameras, smart appliances or anything else hooked to the Internet.
Another clever hacking technique exposed by WikiLeaks is that of the CIA’s “UMBRAGE” group. These hackers use malware to steal and replicate the digital “fingerprints” of a foreign hacker, allowing the U.S. to then blame the hack on a foreign enemy such as Russia.
Here’s how UMBRAGE works, according to WikiLeaks:
“The CIA’s hand-crafted hacking techniques pose a problem for the agency. Each technique it has created forms a ‘fingerprint’ that can be used by forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks to the same entity.
“This is analogous to finding the same distinctive knife wound on multiple separate murder victims. The unique wounding style creates suspicion that a single murderer is responsible. As soon one murder in the set is solved then the other murders also find likely attribution.
“The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.
“With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the ‘fingerprints’ of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.”
After the U.S. presidential election in November, mainstream media widely circulated reports quoting U.S. intelligence officials that Russia’s “digital fingerprints” were all over the hack into the Democratic National Convention emails that supposedly influenced the election of Donald Trump.
Rush Limbaugh surmised on his radio show Tuesday that UMBRAGE may have been used to replicate the fingerprints of Russian hackers into the DNC.
“They have found a way to essentially emulate Russian hacks either from the KGB, the RBG, the Russian government, various other Russian hackers,” Limbaugh said. “It’s a wide variety of people. The CIA has found a way to make it look like it’s the Russians doing the hacking.
“Isn’t that interesting, given everything we’ve been told about the election? ‘The Russians hacked the election, that the Russians did this, the Russians did that.’ So far we don’t have any evidence the Russians did anything! But we have all kinds of supposition that the American deep state is deeply involved in whatever sabotage is being conducted on the Trump administration.”
Among the other more notable disclosures, the CIA had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”
Patrick Wood, an expert on technocracy and its impact on privacy, called the WikiLeaks information “huge” because it suggests these types of surveillance techniques are being used against Americans without judicial oversight.
It makes the FISA court, in many ways, an irrelevant Neanderthal institution that was designed for 1980s technology, he said. Placing this level of technology in the hands of an agency with a history as checkered as the CIA’s is “striking” and “scary,” Wood told WND.
“First we had the NSA Snowden revelations and now the CIA,” said Wood, author of “Technocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse of Global Transformation.”
“We’ve had enough history on the CIA to know that there are some, not all who belong to it, but some who have operated outside the law, for decades. We’ve seen traces of them here and there around the world, we’ve seen them in South America, in the Mideast, in Russia, even China, doing things that were outside the law of anybody’s country let alone our own. So why would anyone be shocked that this reveals illegal activity?”
The hacking of Samsung TVs lends itself to an Orwellian scenario where every American could one day have his home monitored by the government, but we’re not there yet, Wood said.
Vizio Smart TVs, which are linked to the Internet, are equally vulnerable.
“They can’t and won’t tap into every one of these TVs in the country and set up a 1984-style monitoring system, because that’s too big and wouldn’t achieve a practical purpose,” Wood said.
Same goes for everyone with an iPhone.
But that shouldn’t be too comforting. The CIA or NSA can and will pick and choose who it wants to monitor.
“At this point, there are not enough people to sit there and listen to what you have to say. But what this says to me is there are actors within the CIA and NSA and other agencies with the same mentality, where they believe anywhere they want to look they will look,” Wood said. “And they’re looking somewhere all the time. And this is the technocratic mind – these people believe they’re entitled to look at whatever they want to look at and are entitled to look all the way to the bottom.”
Wood said this is beyond government overreach.
“It’s anti-American, and it’s illegal that they do these things. But there is no doubt there has been a trail of spying on American citizens without any FISA court involvement. It’s simply because they can and, therefore, they do,” he said.
Trump Tower bugged?
Wood said it is “plausible” that at least some of these techniques were used against the Trump campaign by the Obama administration.
Anyone who doubts Obama’s intelligence apparatus was capable of this should remember the past scandals, including allegations the White House had bugged the U.S. House cloakroom in 2013 and also certain reporters for the Associated Press and Fox News.
“We’ve had allegations of spying over last four five years that was clearly illegal, no right or basis to do any of that. But we know they did it in the past. So to even hint that they would never do it in the future is just ignorant,” Wood said.
Timing of Trump tweet ‘brilliant’
Wood said the timing of Trump’s tweet blowing the whistle on the Obama administration’s use of wiretaps was “brilliant.”
“It seems to me that Trump had some idea this was going to be released by WikiLeaks and some idea about the content. Because his tweet storm played right into this whole thing,” Wood said.
“He threw that thought out, got everybody in a big hubbub. And then, all of a sudden, this big explosion of WikiLeaks. And now everybody that got angry with him over those tweets has absolutely been shut down. They’ve been made to look like fools. They’ve been played.”
Wood said officials who defended Obama as above the fray and not involved in wiretapping decisions, men like former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, now look like fools.
Everything is hackable
Wood said the message taken from the latest WikiLeaks dump for the average American should be clear: Everything is hackable.
“The internet of things is now being combined with the Internet of people, and the new phrase is called the IOE, the Internet of Everything,” he said.
In his best-selling book, “Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization,” author and arch-globalist Parag Khanna made the case that the world needs to be more fully connected.
“Everything needs to be connected, everything, including things and people, and every one of these things – computers, TVs, phones, appliances, smart refrigerators, smart light bulbs, smart cameras, anything conceivably connected to the Internet – can be hacked,” Wood said. “That’s what this tells me. There is nothing that’s connected to the Internet that these people haven’t figured out a way hack.”
And it’s not just the government you need to worry about.
One of the most disturbing revelations of the WikiLeaks documents is that the CIA has “lost control” of its secret archive of codes used to hack into various systems. The codes have now fallen into the hands of former government hackers and, presumably, to rogue hackers.
“This was, in my estimation, the height of irresponsibility within the technocrat world,” Wood said. “This is the mindset of the technocrats: They create some great hacking tool and, while they are all patting each other on the back about the new tool they created, no discussion was given to how to protect that tool from being hacked.”
Wood said the smart cameras people have in their homes like NEST Home Security, which are available at Best Buy or Home Depot, have become popular because they allow a homeowner to look at their smartphone and see their house remotely from thousands of miles away.
“That’s cool technology, but it was never locked down,” Wood said. “The technocrats who developed it left it wide open. It never occurred to them that there would be hackers who would love to enter this system illegally to invade your household. Wouldn’t you think it would be wise to spend as much time locking it down as you would developing it?
“With cars, we’re talking about hacking into your car’s software to run you off the road by taking over your steering.”
He said Microsoft is notorious for not securing its Windows operating systems.
“I used to be in the IT industry, and there were discussions ever since Windows 3 on the idea could Microsoft secure their software, is it possible, or was it just an oversight and they chose not to?” Wood said. “That debate has raged for three decades now. I can’t imagine that Microsoft could not have secured their software from Day 1 if they had wanted to.”