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Should you be worried the CIA is spying on you through your device

There’s been lots of hysteria since WikiLeaks latest data dump yesterday which claimed the CIA could break into computers, phones and even smart TVs and spy on you. So should you be worried?

The authenticity of the documents can’t be confirmed but they detail how the CIA have allegedly developed tools to break onto iOS devices – that’s iPhones and iPads – as well as Android devices.

Computers running Windows were also targeted and supposedly the CIA could even listen in through Samsung smart TVs even while it appeared to be turned off.

It should be pointed out that these documents are at least two years old and date back as far as five years.

So the bottom line is you have nothing to fear now – but that’s not to say your device wasn’t tapped years ago.

Unless you’re a person of interest on the CIA watch list the chances that your device was snooped a few years ago are virtually zero.

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But there is alarm that these exploits were supposedly devised by the CIA in the first place.

The CIA allegedly had a dedicated team of people working on iOS 8 and iOS 9 – these are up to three-year-old operating systems for the iPhone and iPad.

If you’ve updated to the latest version of iOS – like more than 80 per cent of iPhone and iPad users already have – you’ll have absolutely nothing to worry about.

One of the reasons why there are software updates for your phones, tablets, computers and even your TVs is to patch up any possible vulnerabilities.

What these alleged documents spoke about were “zero day” exploits which are loopholes found in software before the company that created it discovers the vulnerability.

The Samsung TVs that were supposedly tapped were 2012 and 2013 models and were put into a “fake off” mode to record audio.

But subsequent Samsung firmware updates have closed these alleged loopholes so a person would need physical access to your TV to install the listening software.

What we can take out of this whole thing is the need to constantly update the firmware and operating systems of your devices.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg covers his laptop camera with duct tape
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg covers his laptop camera with duct tape

These updates are designed to close any vulnerabilities as well as adding new features and designs.

And if you’re feeling really paranoid, you can always put a piece of duct tape over the camera on your mobile device or computer.

 

About Stephen Fenech

Stephen is the Tech Guide editor and one of Australia's most respected tech journalists. He is a regular on radio and TV talking about the latest tech news, products and trends.

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