CIA's Shrugtastic Response To Hacking Apple Security: 'It Is What It Is' And 'That's What We Do'

from the meh dept

We just had a story based on the Intercept breaking the fact that the CIA holds an annual hackathon (the CIA calls it a "Jamboree") to come up with new ways to hack secure systems, inviting in various contractors and government agencies. Much of the work is focused on hacking Apple's security, inserting backdoors and generally degrading security and encryption for everyone.

The CIA refused to comment on the Intercept's original story, but the reporters got former FTC official Steven Bellovin to sum it up as:
“Spies gonna spy,” says Steven Bellovin, a former chief technologist for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and current professor at Columbia University. “I’m never surprised by what intelligence agencies do to get information. They’re going to go where the info is, and as it moves, they’ll adjust their tactics. Their attitude is basically amoral: whatever works is OK.”
Now, "unnamed" anonymous CIA officials seem to be picking up where that shrugging comment left off. Talking to CNBC reporters, the CIA folks give similarly "meh" kinds of responses:
"That's what we do," the official said. "CIA collects information overseas, and this is focused on our adversaries, whether they be terrorists or other adversaries."
Except, of course, they don't just spy overseas. The CIA has done domestic spying as well, and the descriptions of the projects don't just impact people overseas. And then there's this one:
"There's a whole world of devices out there, and that's what we're going to do," the official said. "It is what it is."
It is what it is. That's someone who clearly doesn't care one bit about the negative consequences of attacking security and inserting backdoors that can harm everyone, just so long as they can also spy on people they don't like. You know, like the US Senate.

Filed Under: backdoors, cia, encryption, hackathon, jamboree, privacy, spying, surveillance
Companies: apple


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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 11 Mar 2015 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re:

    The problem is that the government, one and all, has utterly and completely poisoned the well when it comes to public opinion on their involvement with computer security. They've been caught out on so many lies, and had so many bad actions exposed, that everyone automatically assumes the worst these days, and rightly so I'd say.

    As their words and actions have shown, their definition of 'protection' tends to involve sabotaging and intentionally weakening security used by millions of people, all for no apparent good, as despite all the damage they cause, they always seem to get tongue-tied when it comes to presenting the benefits resulting from their actions, and when they do try and trot out examples to justify their actions, those examples pretty much without fail show that their actions were unnecessary and/or caused more damage than they prevented.

    As they, and multiple other government agencies have shown, while they may be all for protecting their interests, their security and their powers, they don't seem to extend that same fervor to the public's interests and security, so it's hardly surprising that a 'lets find or create as many security flaws as we can' event like this isn't well received.

    They've lost the trust of anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention, so backlash against even things that may have been acceptable before is to be expected, and they have only themselves to blame for it.

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