So, what was in those leaks?
Allegedly there were tools and documents, including malware (trojans and the like), RATs, methods of hacking and controlling people’s phones, SMART TVs, computers, and other devices that relay through a network (possibly Alexa, Siri, Cortana, etc.) that were used by the CIA and shared with NSA, that were leaked to former intelligence agents. At least one, or of a handful of these agents had transferred the tools and documents to WikiLeaks.
Supposedly, this is only part one of the ‘hugest leak’ in history, and WikiLeaks will be continuing the Vault 7 database through the month. Considering the amount of documents to go through, I believe it’d be safe to assume they’ve had these files for months now, considering it’s as late as 2016 documents. What is scary is that WikiLeaks mentions that encryption on devices, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, are pointless due to the remote protocols that can take control of your Android or iPhone itself, thereby bypassing the app(s) themselves. Or that a user could have their files uploaded to a server right now, from their phone or computer, without knowledge, and presumably it wouldn’t be identified through network mappers such as Wireshark.
Leaks are not a rare occurrence in this day and age, as we’ve seen from Cellebrite’s leak, and the Shadow Brokers’ instances. While there are people that see WikiLeaks, and Julian Assange as being allies of Russia, or as being shady (Rex Tillerson, Roger Stone, etc.), there’s no solid evidence, AFAIK, but due to this, people see this move as being political to draw away attention from the Sessions controversy, or further administrative actions. It would seem that WikiLeaks has been waiting quite a while to release these documents, so perhaps it is due to U.S. politics, or perhaps it is due to them feeling this to be the right time. People will note the Clinton emails being leaked out during the campaign, and see that as similar to this. This would be bias, and I am only stating that to show how people may and could see the leaks. It might be political, it might not.
At this point, we should definitely be alerted and aware of this, because if such tools end up in the wrong hands — with black hats, or even dumbed down for script-kiddies to use, it could be incredibly dangerous, especially with the rise of self-driving vehicles (WikiLeaks cites a tool used to control a person’s car, though not much information is given. People were quick to jump to the conclusion that the CIA may have used this in the death of Michael Hastings, though it cannot be confirmed as of now.) I’m sure some of what I’ve written is wrong, but this is what I’ve gathered from a quick read of the Vault 7’s ToC. Expect more to be uploaded — over 8,000 pages which means it could take some time to see the true effect this leak will have, as people (if the tools themselves are uploaded), will seek to modify and use the tools for their own personal gain. You wouldn’t need physical contact with someone’s device, since everything could be done remotely. This is becoming quite scary.
So, What can we do about the government surveillance? Not much. They’re able to bypass encryption, control devices, search through our information (they can see usage data of your device — meaning they can figure when you commonly use your device, and when you’re commonly offline), record your visual and audio interactions, and upload your files to their servers all without you ever knowing. I could be gloom and say privacy is dead.