Yesterday, WikiLeaks dumped a trove of supposed CIA documents alleging the agency exploited a commonly known problem with the “Internet of Things,” essentially allowing it to turn smart TVs into bugs. Nobody in the tech security community was particularly surprised; in fact, more than a year ago, Samsung got in trouble for doing this themselves. And it may have bought WikiLeaks more trouble than the leak was really worth.
According to CNN, a federal criminal probe is being opened into the leak, mostly to determine whether WikiLeaks might reveal something genuinely dangerous, or if they’re simply going to confirm the CIA has the same capabilities the FBI has already admitted it has in court. Currently they’re trying to find the leaker, but WikiLeaks itself may be sucked into the probe depending on what comes out. That said, while the CIA has acknowledged the documents contain accurate statements, they’re still being reviewed by the agency and by independent authorities for signs of alteration and errors in accuracy.
The irony is that the site may have bought itself trouble for nothing. As you can see in the above links, so far the leak has simply confirmed that, unsurprisingly, the CIA has the same surveillance capabilities as other federal intelligence agencies, which hadn’t been officially acknowledged but was a reasonable assumption. A better question is just who these techniques were used on, in the first place, and it’s not clear we know that yet.