Your Car, TV, Phone, Computer and Other Devices Spy On You

Years ago this would be called a “conspiracy theory” but now that the CIA’s “Vault 7” hacking tools have been released this is an established truth.  What’s more scary is the revelation applies to pretty much all computing devices and all OS’s.   The CIA has found exploits and used backdoors into the various devices.  I suspect the backdoors and some vulnerabilities were forcefully injected by the US government.  To make it more scary we have the NSA’s PRISM and this combined with the CIA dump is alarming because those entities combined with other governments surely have a lot more than what has been revealed.  It is not a stretch but rather insane to believe you are not likely being watched and listened to.  We haven’t even covered well funded, private hacking groups.

There are two issues here.  The first one is companies who willingly create vulnerabilities and backdoors at the request of governments and private groups.  The second issue is compounded by the first one where on top of that many products and companies also spy on their customers and also share that data with third party companies and governments at will without any disclosure or regulation.

It’s more than just following where you’ve gone and listening and watching you, the new smart vehicles can be hacked and likely have government mandated malware or backdoors.  Imagine if a government doesn’t like someone and they suddenly have a tragic accident.  There is absolutely no reason why this shouldn’t be the case and perhaps one day we may learn of cases of bizarre traffic accidents that were not really accidents at all.

On an interesting note the “Marble Framework” was released which is essentially an anti-forensic tool to make it difficult for malware and virus experts to attribute the code to the CIA or the US government.  The framework would essentially make it look like enemies of the US such as China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea were responsible for cyberattacks and malware that the US itself had created.

With all this it sounds hopeless but it is not, Edward Snowden famously stated “do not give up on encryption” as clearly not everything is hackable and compromised, there are steps we can take to prevent ourselves from being hacked by the government.  Edward Snowden’s comments and actions are of particular use, the fact that he still says to use encryption means there are ways to be secure.  We should also remember that he used the Tails distribution for communication and used OpenPGP, so it appears at least in the recent past, this was a secure and unbreakable way of communicating.

“What last year’s revelations showed us was irrefutable evidence that unencrypted communications on the internet are no longer safe. Any communications should be encrypted by default,” he said. — Edward Snowden

How can you protect yourself?  There are steps we can take but avoiding the usage of free, insecure services to communicate such as gmail,facebook,whatsapp and also avoiding products that spy on us.  Try to get an older TV or if you get a newer one rip it open and disable the microphone, wifi etc.  If you drive a vehicle consider again seeing if it is possible to disable some of the spying features on it or drive an older vehicle without technology that logs and calls home.  It’s time to get armed and follow certain procedures, avoid certain products and make it as a difficult as possible to be spied on.  Although the programs and hacking methods, groups like the CIA possess are incredible, not all are guaranteed to be successful especially on those who do not run default or standard settings.

How Governments Should Handle Crypto and ICOs

First of all after seeing so much confusion, panic and misinformation in the news, it is about time each country made a dedicated website for cryptocurrency.  The winners will be the countries who clearly communicate their policy, laws and intentions on handling cryptocurrencies.

Now in all fairness things are moving so fast, governments have genuine reason to fear cryptocurrency (aside from illegitimate reasons…) with most ICOs being absolute scams.  The real reason is of course is that governments can no longer vote or control who can fund themselves, the internet and public will judge.  However, there are still good reasons to have regulation or at least accountability so ICO fraudsters cannot hide overseas and disappear with the coins they collect.  This is my position where I feel the majority of token ICOs have no intention of completing their projects.

Getting back to what government should do, it’s not only ICOs but also the laws surrounding the purchase, use and trade around cryptocurrency.

The first country(s) to make fair, easy and favorable laws surrounding ICOs and cryptocurrency may find itself literally walking into digital gold and could be the next Hong Kong or Singapore of the crypto-finance world.  It’s up for grabs until countries clarify and cement their policies with crypto.

The first step if I were a regulator would be to hold public consultation and establish a staterun/government website domain to encourage discussion.  I also imagine it will be a hard case for government going after their citizens or businesses because they could simply leave the country with their crypto.  I think this is one element that business and government doesn’t like, that they can no longer control what people do with their money.  Typically governments and banks work hand in hand to achieve specific goals but with cryptocurrency, much like the world-wide web (initially) they are trying to find a balance and also ways to reign in control.

This time is very different, there is a lot at stake for governments, banks, people and business.  If a government moves too aggressively against the crypto world it could find itself sidelined and in financial ruin while their citizens and businesses will flock to countries that treat them better.

One of the first known examples of staterun conspiracy to harm cryptocurrency is Poland’s recent Youtube campaign: https://cryptoslate.com/polish-central-bank-caught-funding-anti-cryptocurrency-youtube-campaign/. They can’t be the only one and we know because of the well-timed press-conferences from various countries that threaten to ban ICOs or the currency outright.  On that note, as an investor this gives me more confidence than ever.  If crypto isn’t a big thing, then governments wouldn’t be talking about it.  The fact they warn so much about crypto suggests that governments and banks are well aware it is here to stay.

It could be that some governments are just playing games and waiting to see how things play out.  Perhaps internally if they see their attacks on crypto don’t kill it then they’ve already accepted that they will stop the fight against crypto.  Personally I think they are well aware that they cannot stop it and are maybe buying time so they can launch their own like Japan, Russia and China have announced.

I don’t think there’s a direct comparison but this standoff reminds me of the anti-piracy fight.  It used to be a fringe and underground element, but with crackdowns it actually has become more prevalent and easy for people to engage in piracy. Don’t get me wrong, crypto is not at all illegal or wrong (as compared to piracy) but the governments are essentially treating the crypto world the same way.  Much like the rule of investment after your strategy fails, trying again “won’t be different this time” I believe.

What do you think, how can governments handle crypto better and how would you react to bans and other aggressive action against crypto and related businesses?