Last Tuesday, WikiLeaks released several thousand document on the internet. This time we got a look at some very startling technologies, such as the ability of the CIA to take over late-model cars and cause them to crash. And that was just part of what was revealed. Not only that, WikiLeaks promises much more such data soon.
On Tuesday, Wikileaks unexpectedly released 8,761 documents claiming to reveal “CIA hacking tools” such as everyday smart televisions and mobile devices being used surreptitiously to gather audio and information.
Ubiquitous products by companies such as the Apple iPhone, Google’s Android and Samsung TVs are mentioned in the documents, while Amazon’s Kindle is referred to in a section about code templates.
While Amazon's “Echo” device apparently was not mentioned in the WikiLeaks release, it would be natural to wonder about such a device. And that's exactly what some folks have done.
Amazon’s Echo, a voice activated smart home device, does not appear in the leaked information. However, a video posted to Twitter appearing to show the personnel device shirking a simple question about whether it has links to the CIA is provoking debate and humor online.
The person in the 43-second clip asks: “Alexa, are you connected to the CIA?”. After giving assurances that it always tries to tell the truth, the Amazon device shuts down twice when probed further about the CIA.
Debate has followed since the video was posted on Wednesday, with some people questioning its authenticity.
@localbusinessco Most likely fake but hilarious none the less
— Anders Nilsson (@SpectralGh0st) March 8, 2017
— Baader Meinof (@Baader_Meinhof) March 9, 2017
With virtually everyone possessing at least one device that is wireless and/or connected to the internet, the opportunity to be hacked has never been higher. Since the intelligence community, for obvious reasons, cannot declare what their capabilities are, getting a definitive answer is impossible.
When you know that certain capabilities exist that can impact your life, but you cannot measure or determine what risks are involved, the inevitable speculation will run wild. And the snag is that some of that speculation is not only true, but there are also capabilities we never even thought of.
Since this story originally broke, many people have tried asking Echo if it is connected to the CIA. Sometimes it denies, sometimes it shuts off:
Rest peacefully tonight.