The Good News from the CIA Hacks

March 23, 2017 by The GTech Operations Team

Although the ominous tone of the headlines about recent CIA hacks seems to provoke fear of the government in the public domain, many experts are quick to point out that the public's reaction should be just the opposite. Information released about the CIA's so-called "Vault 7" through WikiLeaks has some people fearing for their privacy. But these recent revelations prove something reassuring, according to Hackernoon: The CIA is doing its job.

The surveillance tactics described in the leaks are not the same as the kinds of illegal and unethical tactics used by the NSA during the Snowden whistleblowing episode. Far from it: the surveillance methods are targeted surveillance aimed at specific threat agents. The intelligence community itself supports the methods and practices of the CIA in this regard.  It is the mission of the CIA to collect and analyze data relating to national security, and this mission is consistent with the hacking tools the CIA is using and the manner in which it is using them.

Arguably the most controversial portion of the leaks was in regard to hacking of individual cell phones. It has been widely misreported that encryption for some popular communication apps was broken by the CIA. But according to Alan Buzdar at Hackernoon, this is not the case. The encryption was actually bypassed, which means that the CIA can hack a phone and read its messages, but cannot intercept the messages in transit. This essentially ensures that the surveillance must be targeted, keeping the CIA's use of power in check.

The consequences of the "Vault 7" leaks and others like it are far-reaching, inciting investigations and controversy. But the silver lining is that the government is working harder to protect the public from broad sweeping passive data collection. Encryption put in place to protect our privacy is performing an essential function, helping to keep the CIA and other government agencies on the side of the American people.