The CIA is hacking into your phones and they have access to your private conversations, even encrypted chats on applications known for being secure, such as Signal and WhatsApp. That was the message you got if you read any of a number of mainstream news stories on the latest Wikileaks data dump. But as the NYT’s
Zeynep Tufekci points out, that version of the story is based on some tweets by Wikileaks, and not on what is actually found in the data dump. “In their haste to post articles about the release, almost all the leading news organizations took the WikiLeaks tweets at face value. Their initial accounts mentioned Signal, WhatsApp and other encrypted apps by name, and described them as ‘bypassed’ or otherwise compromised by the C.I.A.’s cyberspying tools … [but] if anything, the C.I.A. documents in the cache confirm the strength of encryption technologies.” The wrongness of the initial stories is the result of a perfect storm of three factors: Technical subject matter, a master of disinformation, and always on race to publish stories quickly. It’s yet another reminder of the Internet’s five least common words: Let me think about that.

+ It would be wise to apply what we’ve learned above to Julian Assange’s claim that he’s going to work with tech firms to defeat CIA hacking