CIA May Have Access to Android SMS Tracking Tools
The CIA is making it hard to keep your privacy online.
According to a recent Wikileaks report, the CIA has access to a number of tools that allow them to use SMS tracking, browser tracking, and more from Android devices.
Typically, the CIA would use the tools they have available to track and monitor criminals and high profile individuals, but these tools can easily be used to track the everyday smartphone user too.
Currently, the CIA has access to a total of 24 zero day exploits for Android. This means that they have 24 individual exploits that they can use to track users with. This range of exploits gives the CIA an incredible amount of power over the everyday citizen.
Currently, Android market share is close to 90% of the world’s smartphones. Whilst market share may be less in the United States, millions of users are still at risk. Because of the way these zero day exploits work, there’s technically no way to prevent these exploits and certainly no way to block the CIA from using them.
The CIA can even use tracking methods to track messages sent through apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Weibo. Even if you use the encryption tools available in these apps, the CIA will still be able to read messages before the encryption methods are applied.
Some of the exploits are also used to target communications sent through more traditional methods. For example, a zero day exploit can be used for SMS tracking on devices running Android 4.0 to Android 4.3. Any devices with this software version are at risk of having their messages intercepted by the CIA.
According to the same leaks, they also has access to a number of tracking tools for the iPhone, too. The iPhone tracking tools in their arsenal allow the CIA to remotely control and monitor factory new iPhone handsets.
The CIA can also use their suite of tools to track activity across home security systems and smart TVs. It’s frightening to think that the same technology that’s designed to provide us comfort and safety is also being used to breach our privacy.
Another frightening aspect of the zero day exploits is that if they were to fall into the wrong hands, the privacy and online safety of millions of people could potentially be handed over to those that may use that information for malicious intent.
It’s not clear whether the CIA worked in partnership with Google and Apple to install these exploits, or if they went through other means to get these exploits installed. It’s shocking to think that even a company like Apple, who pride themselves on security and safety of their customers, potentially has a zero day exploit baked into their smartphone operating system.
Unfortunately, unlike malware designed by malicious companies or entities, the malware created by the CIA cannot be dealt with and may not even be patched by either Google or Apple. This means that keeping your privacy in 21st century America is now essentially impossible so long as you have access to an internet-connected smartphone, laptop, TV, or other devices.