Wikileaks is claiming to have successfully “hacked” the Central Intelligence Agency. So far, no one denies the claim with any evidence to the contrary, and that has more than a few people changing their passwords and closing some online accounts. After all, if the CIA can get hacked, is anyone truly ever immune from the threat of hacking? In a word: no. But that doesn’t mean you throw your smartphone in the river and move to a shack in the North Woods. You should simply take steps to lessen the risks.
Of course, that’s not really what has people truly up in arms. The reports are claiming the CIA is using smartphones, laptops, and Smart TVs to “spy” on people around the world. And those claims have even the most level-headed people feeling a little paranoid. Last week, one of the most popular conversations on social media appeared to be some version of: “you ever been talking about something, and then the ad popped up on Facebook?”
Most people have experienced something like that, but security experts are already saying most folks have little to worry about. There’s nothing really “new” in the document dumps Wikileaks is doing at the moment. Spy tools for internet-connected devices have existed for as long as there have been consumer applications for these items.
One industry expert, Nicholas Weaver, a researcher with the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, put it very bluntly in a conversation reported by CNN: “That the CIA hacks is like saying water is wet — it’s them doing their job…”
That basic premise is brushing strongly up against the Other Side of the conversation: conspiracy theorists who believe the government is out to get, well, pretty much everyone. Caught in the middle are people who just want to get on with their lives in relative privacy. And these are the people that guys like Weaver need to reach.
Unfortunately, in a narrative competition pitting science geeks and policy wonks up against talk radio and the internet … science typically loses. People want simple and relatable. Scientists and high-level researchers struggle with losing the jargon and communicating simply and relatably. That takes translation, and that takes time. Meanwhile, those who communicate everything simply and relatably have already got their version of the message out to umpteen outlets.
Down to brass tacks, it’s a race between people who understand how to communicate and those who actually understand what they are trying to communicate. In a perfect world, all of these people would work together … and many do … though there are some who do not … and they are already telling their fans: “it’s not paranoia if you’re right…”
David Milberg is an experienced credit analyst in NYC. He is a long-time owner of Milberg Factors, a factoring and finance company with locations in New York, California, and North Carolina.