Why the CIA is using your TVs, smartphones and cars for spying – Chicago Tribune

Posted: Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The latest revelations about the U.S. government’s powerful hacking tools potentially take surveillance right into the homes and hip pockets of billions of technology users worldwide, showing how a remarkable variety of everyday devices can be turned to spy on their owners.

Televisions, smartphones and even anti-virus software are all vulnerable to CIA hacking, according to WikiLeaks documents released Tuesday. The capabilities described include recording the sounds, images and private text messages of users, even when they resort to encrypted apps to communicate.

While many of the attack technologies had been previously discussed at cybersecurity conferences, experts were startled to see evidence that the CIA had turned so many theoretical vulnerabilities into functioning attack tools against staples of modern life. These include widely used Internet routers, smartphones, and Mac and Windows computers.

In the case of a tool called “Weeping Angel” for attacking Samsung smart TVs, WikiLeaks wrote, “After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.”

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