7 Revelations from ‘Vault 7’: How should Russia respond?


March 10, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

Ruslan Ostashko, LiveJournal – translated by J. Arnoldski

On March 7th, WikiLeaks dealt another blow to American intelligence services and American high-tech companies by publishing an unprecedentedly large set of classified CIA materials. These materials describe in detail the high-tech espionage activities of American intelligence.

Here are the most scandalous facts from the documents published by WIkiLeaks:

1. The CIA has a large set of tools ready for hacking Apple and Android devices, as well as computers running Windows, MacOS, and even Linux operating systems. Now the users and administrators of even the most exotic operating systems should know that the CIA has long since picked up the keys to their systems. American hackers can easily access all data, including geolocation, the contents of memory, and information gathered through audio systems and microphones. 

The icing on the cake is that the CIA can remotely disable a device or computer working on vulnerable systems, which greatly disturbs those agencies whose efficiency depends on the operation of electronic systems. It is unpleasant to think what could happen at some kind of hazardous job or in the Russian power system if all the computers in control centers suddenly stop working.

2. The CIA can use so-called Smart TV’s to eavesdrop and spy on users. Many modern TV’s have a microphone and small video camera that open up the possibility of spying and the collection of incriminating audio and video materials from expensive hotels and even private apartments. For some unknown reason, the CIA and their British MI-5 colleagues especially like Samsung TV’s. 

By the way, turning off the TV is pointless – listening in on the microphone works no matter what.

3. Tools for hacking various information systems freely circulate in the American intelligence community and are even passed on to some subcontractors, i.e., private companies carrying out specific CIA orders. Edward Snowden worked at one of these private companies serving the NSA.

This means that the chances for a leak of these very dangerous cyber weapons are very high. It is scary to imagine what a terrorist organization would do with such tools rendering it capable of accessing the computer systems of some nuclear power plants.

The documents describing the CIA’s hacking instruments found their way to WikiLeaks by none other than this way: from an unknown employee of a private company working for the CIA. This means that cyber weapons can pass on to anyone in the very same way. This is a real threat for all countries of the world that is only slightly inferior to such threats as the proliferation of nuclear or biological weapons.

4. Especially disturbing is the CIA’s hacking system built into modern cars and medical equipment. By simply accessing automated control systems in a modern car or an electronic life support machine in a hospital, the CIA can conduct assassinations that are impossible to distinguish from accidents. 

5. Politicians, officials, and journalists’ favorite apps such as Telegram and Whatsapp, which until now boasted an impeccable reputation in terms of privacy and encryption, have turned out to be completely defenseless against American spies. It’s simple: why hack the app itself or the encrypted message if you can just hack the operating system on which Telegram or Whatsapp are running anyway? With high probability it can be argued that a message is intercepted before the application has time to encrypt it. In other words, all of the security measures taken by these applications’ developers turn out to be meaningless.

The most logical assumption which all such app users should make is that they have no privacy.

6. The CIA is waging a war on antivirus companies hindering their work. The details of this operation are not yet known, but we can expect they will be revealed in the future.

7. The CIA often tries to leave false trails at hacking instances which could lead one to conclude that….attention….Russian hackers did it. Yes, those legendary hackers from Russia who are blamed for Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the American elections.

WikiLeaks promises to continue publishing these secret documents and has emphasized that this is far from all of them. Yet the first political consequences of this leak can already be seen.

China has already expressed its concern over CIA activities, especially since American politicians more often than not blame China for waging a cyberwar against the US. Now Beijing can calmly reply to all claims made by American intelligence services. Just how American diplomats will justify their excuses remains unclear.

According to WikiLeaks, the Prosecutor General of Germany has inquired into the use of at least one US diplomatic mission in Germany as an American hacker hub that has spied on German citizens. This scandal could erupt and might spin simultaneously with the German election campaigns, and therefore to a certain extent might influence the outcome of the elections.

Reuters has reported that US experts on cybersecurity have identified one of the viruses described in the WikiLeaks materials. Before these scandalous publications, it was believed that this virus was unleashed by Russian or Chinese hackers. Yet it turns out that this virus is from the CIA.

The question arises: how should we react to all of this? How should the state and society react to all of this?

First of all, we need to actively develop our IT industry and not waste any time listening to talk about the inevitable technological backwardness of Russia. And there is no time for witty jokes about the “special Russian path” that supposedly “wastes” money developing Russian apps, operating systems, or hardware. We need to complicate the mission of our geopolitical opponents as much as possible, and this can be done only by developing our own technology.

Secondly, from now on all accusations and possible “evidence” of Russian hackers participating in alleged cybercrimes must be officially declared a lie and CIA provocation.

In fact, WikiLeaks’ publication of these documents is very timely. Donald Trump needs arguments to fight off accusations that mythological Russian hackers helped him win the elections. Now he has a very strong argument that will be difficult to dismiss. 

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Finally, despite the fact that this news has literally blown up the American infofield, CNN has ignored it so stubbornly that people are even starting to joke about this on social networks. As practice shows, this doesn’t work in today’s world. The Internet still hasn’t beat television, but ignoring the Internet will never succeed again. 

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