Wikileaks recently released a set of 8,761 documents that gave a detailed expose of American spy agency CIA’s covert activities between 2013 and 2016. The leaked documents show how the agency uses malware, viruses and trojans to hack into the smartphones and personal computers and snoop on people across the globe. The documents also highlighted how Samsung smart TVs were being used by the CIA for its personal surveillance program.
However, the fact that only the Samsung TVs are being hacked for spying is not true.
In an interview to the Intercept, former NSA contractor and spy Edward Snowden revealed how the surveillance program by the CIA and the NSA works. He also clarified that it is not just the Samsung smart TVs that were being targeted by the CIA. Snowden said that everything that is connected to the Internet can be hacked and used for surveillance.
Talking to the host Jeremy Scahill over a video link from an undisclosed location in Moscow, Russia Snowden explained that earlier CIA used to manually hack into the devices using a USP stick to enable the hack at the airports from where they were being shipped to their destinations.
“What they do is wait for when these devices are being shipped to you. You order them on Amazon or whatever. They go them at the airports. They get the box. They use a little hair dryer to soften the adhesive to open up the box. Then the put the USP stick in, then they seal the box back all nice and perfect and then they ship it on to you. And now your router, your computer and your TV are hacked. This is a very routine thing,” Snowden said in the interview.
He also revealed that every year 5 – 20 percent devices are made with these flaws to support CIA’s cause.
Snowden also said that the CIA and the NSA are ‘paying companies to develop what are basically digital weapons’ so that they can break into any device. However, the organisations did not target any random device. “If they know that there’s a particular place or zip code that has a nuclear facility, they do this kind of thing. This is a method that they apply to many different things. They might also do this to a political party, they might also do this to a newsroom when they know that a particular device is going to a particular building,” he said.
Snowden also gave insights into how the massive surveillance by the two organisation works. He said the CIA does not target any specific IP addresses. Instead, everything was being recorded on the NSA servers and that the organisation doesn’t require a warrant as long it doesn’t admit or imply that it is tracking an individual or an IP address owing to a set of complicated policies.
To put is simply, no amount of data encryption or security or firewalls can safeguard your device. And all your private messages, photos, files are being downloaded to an NSA server at some covert location (if that doesn’t scare you, nothing would!).